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J. Dairy Sci. 89:3143-3151
©American Dairy Science Association, 2006.

Accounting for Heterogeneous Variances in Multitrait Evaluation of Jersey Type Traits

N. Gengler*,{dagger}, G. R. Wiggans{ddagger},1, L. L. M. Thornton{ddagger}, J. R. Wright{ddagger} and T. Druet*,{dagger},2

* National Fund for Scientific Research, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium
{dagger} Animal Science Unit, Gembloux Agricultural University, B-5030 Gembloux, Belgium
{ddagger} Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350

1 Corresponding author: wiggans{at}aipl.arsusda.gov

The multitrait genetic evaluation system for type traits was modified to estimate adjustments for heterogeneous variance (HV) simultaneously with estimated breeding values (EBV) for final score and 14 linear traits. Each variance within herd, year, and parity was regressed toward a predicted variance, which was determined by fitting a model with fixed effects of the mean final score for herd, size of the contemporary group, appraisal month, and year-season and a random effect for herd-appraisal date. Herd-appraisal date was included as a random effect to regress the observed heterogeneity for a given herd-appraisal date toward the fixed effects. Method R was used to estimate variances for the heterogeneity model in each EBV iteration. To evaluate the effect of the adjustment, parent averages were calculated from evaluations with recent appraisals removed. The adjustment slightly improved correlations within birth year between those parent averages and EBV from current data on bulls for most traits, but did not improve correlations for final score, strength, dairy form, teat length, or foot angle. Annual trends for EBV were lower with HV adjustment than for unadjusted EBV for all traits except final score and rump angle for cows and rump width for bulls, which were essentially unchanged. Standard deviations of Mendelian sampling (evaluation minus mean of parent evaluations) declined less over time for HV-adjusted than for unadjusted evaluations. The slope at year 2000 of Mendelian-sampling standard deviations from HV-adjusted evaluations ranged from 10.0% for udder depth to 42.7% for teat length compared with the slope for unadjusted evaluations. This HV adjustment, which was implemented for USDA evaluations in May 2001 for Jerseys and in 2002 for other breeds, improves the accuracy of evaluations, particularly comparisons over time, by accounting for the change in variation.

Key Words: heterogeneous variance adjustment · type evaluation

Copyright © 2006 by the American Dairy Science Association.