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J. Dairy Sci. 86:3366-3373
© American Dairy Science Association, 2003.

Implementation of a Sire-Maternal Grandsire Model for Evaluation of Calving Ease in the United States

C. P. Van Tassell*,{dagger}, G. R. Wiggans* and I. Misztal{ddagger}

* Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory and
{dagger} Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350
{ddagger} Animal and Dairy Science Department, University of Georgia, Athens 30602

Corresponding author: C. Van Tassell; e-mail: curtvt@aipl.arsusda.gov.

The objective of this study was to add a maternal grandsire (MGS) effect to the existing sire model for national calving ease genetic evaluations. The Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory (AIPL) of USDA assumed responsibility for conducting the national genetic evaluation for calving ease and maintaining the associated database in 1999. Existing evaluations used a sire threshold model. Adding an MGS effect to the model was expected to improve accuracy by partially accounting for merit of mates and differences in maternal ability of the dams. Dystocia data were migrated to a relational database integrated with the AIPL production database. This database design allowed more rigorous data edits by comparison with the production data and improved MGS identification (ID) rate by utilizing pedigrees from the production records. Integration of dystocia data with production data increased MGS ID rate from 58 to 73%. In addition, nearly 200,000 duplicate records were identified using the new edit system. Sire and sire-MGS models were compared using over 10 million observations available for the August 2002 national genetic evaluation. The sire model included herd-year, season, sex of calf, parity of dam, birth year group of sire, and sire. For the sire-MGS model, MGS and birth year group of MGS were added, year-seasons rather than seasons were used, and sex of calf and parity of dam were combined into a single interaction effect. Herd-year, sire, and MGS were random effects. Variance components used for the sire model were those previously used in the national evaluation and for the sire-MGS model were estimated in a separate study. Correlations between predicted genetic merits for service sire calving ease from the two models was 85%, indicating general agreement, but with some significant differences in evaluations. A sire-MGS model was implemented in August 2002 for the national calving ease genetic evaluation system.

Key Words: calving ease · dystocia · threshold model · genetic evaluation

Abbreviations: AIPL = Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory · CE = calving ease · %DBH = PTA for percentage of births that are difficult for first-calf heifers · ID = identification · MGS = maternal grandsire · S-MGS = sire-maternal grandsire

Copyright © 2003 by the American Dairy Science Association.