NTM Unlocked
Comparing breeding values between breeds

In this post, we will talk about why you should not compare breeding values (EBVs) for the different traits in NTM between the three breeds.
We have previously explained that we have breed-specific weights for the traits in NTM. Bovine breeds are different from each other and therefore the weight distribution in the breeding goals for VikingHolstein, VikingRed and VikingJersey are a bit different. Each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses. We want all the breeds to develop towards the optimal balanced breeding outcome while taking into consideration the genetic differences and the natural breed specific tendencies for certain traits. 

The development of genetic trend depends on how much weight is allocated to the specific trait. For traits with higher weights, the genetic progress would go faster. On the contrary, the traits that have little genetic progress have small or no weight in NTM, because it is less valuable to improve the breed for that specific trait. 

When we look at NTM and the genetic trend, the figures can be comparable between different breeds. 
However, if we look at the individual traits, we should look at each breed separately and not compare the genetic levels between the breeds, as the three breeds have different starting points in terms of genetic level for various traits and different development of the genetic trend over time. 

The tables below show the genetic level for the selected traits in NTM and the genetic progress during the period from 2001 to 2016 for the three breeds. 

VikingHolstein

 Trait
 VikingHolstein 2016
 Genetic progress 2001-2016 in index units
Production 
114.1 
22.0 
Daughter Fertility 
 107.4
18.7 
Calving Maternal 
107.8 
15.0 
 Longevity
114.5 
33.7 
 Hoof Health
105.9 
11.8 
 Udder Health
108.7 
19.9 
General Health 
105.6 
16.6 

VikingRed

 Trait
 VikingRed 2016
  Genetic progress 2001-2016 in index units
Production 
111.5 
20.1 
Daughter Fertility 
102.3 
4.1 
Calving Maternal
105.1 
11.2 
Longevity
109.1 
21.0 
Hoof Health
102.0 
2.3 
Udder Health
105.2 
9.8 
General Health
102.1 
3.7 

VikingJersey

 Trait
 VikingJersey 2016
   Genetic progress 2001-2016 in index units
Production
 113.8
24.5 
Daughter Fertility
101.7 
5.5 
Calving Maternal
101.5 
5.7 
Longevity
104.9 
19.5 
Hoof Health
98.8 
0.0 
Udder Health
109.7 
17.4 
General Health
103.1 
9.8 

VikingHolsteins are very high in production by their breed type and abilities, therefore, the weight for improving their Production (27.7%) capability is lower than for VikingRed (36.0%) and VikingJersey (37.0%). As our breeding programmes aim for a balanced breeding outcome, it is more important to focus on developing the health traits for VikingHolstein than production capacity that is developing well already for the breed.

Red breeds and Jersey are better in reproduction traits than Holstein so therefore the weight put for improving daughter fertility and calving is lower for VikingRed and VikingJersey than for VikingHolstein. When looking at the NTM main traits - let’s take Udder Health as an example. VikingJersey has higher weight than VikingHolstein and VikingRed. And that makes good sense, if we look at the phenotypic values for udder health, the population average for mastitis frequency in the first three lactations is 14.4% for VikingJersey; 11.7% for VikingHolstein and 7.4% for VikingRed. For VikingJersey, Udder health is the trait that requires more focus in the breeding programme and we see a significant improvement in that trait for VikingJersey +17.4 index units during the last 15 years. 
Trait
 VikingHolstein
 VikingRed
 VikingJersey
Production
 27.7%
36.0% 
37.0% 
Daughter Fertility
11.4% 
8.6% 
8.5% 
 Calving Maternal 
5.5% 
4.7% 
2.6% 
Longevity
4.1% 
2.5% 
3.4% 
Hoof Health
3.0% 
1.8% 
2.1% 
Udder Health
12.9% 
10.8% 
18.7% 
General Health
 4.1%
4.0% 
1.7% 

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