Effect of genotyped cows in the reference population on the genomic evaluation of Holstein cattle

Y. Uemoto, T. Osawa, J. Saburi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This study evaluated the dependence of reliability and prediction bias on the prediction method, the contribution of including animals (bulls or cows), and the genetic relatedness, when including genotyped cows in the progeny-tested bull reference population. We performed genomic evaluation using a Japanese Holstein population, and assessed the accuracy of genomic enhanced breeding value (GEBV) for three production traits and 13 linear conformation traits. A total of 4564 animals for production traits and 4172 animals for conformation traits were genotyped using Illumina BovineSNP50 array. Single- and multi-step methods were compared for predicting GEBV in genotyped bull-only and genotyped bull-cow reference populations. No large differences in realized reliability and regression coefficient were found between the two reference populations; however, a slight difference was found between the two methods for production traits. The accuracy of GEBV determined by single-step method increased slightly when genotyped cows were included in the bull reference population, but decreased slightly by multi-step method. A validation study was used to evaluate the accuracy of GEBV when 800 additional genotyped bulls (POPbull) or cows (POPcow) were included in the base reference population composed of 2000 genotyped bulls. The realized reliabilities of POPbull were higher than those of POPcow for all traits. For the gain of realized reliability over the base reference population, the average ratios of POPbull gain to POPcow gain for production traits and conformation traits were 2.6 and 7.2, respectively, and the ratios depended on heritabilities of the traits. For regression coefficient, no large differences were found between the results for POPbull and POPcow. Another validation study was performed to investigate the effect of genetic relatedness between cows and bulls in the reference and test populations. The effect of genetic relationship among bulls in the reference population was also assessed. The results showed that it is important to account for relatedness among bulls in the reference population. Our studies indicate that the prediction method, the contribution ratio of including animals, and genetic relatedness could affect the prediction accuracy in genomic evaluation of Holstein cattle, when including genotyped cows in the reference population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-393
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar 1


  • dairy cattle
  • inclusion of cows
  • prediction bias
  • reliability
  • small population


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