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Increased rates of genetic change in dairy cattle by embryo transfer and splitting

  • F. W. Nicholas (a1) and C. Smith (a2)

Possibilities for increased rates of genetic change in dairy cattle through embryo transfer and embryo splitting are examined, using the multiple ovulation and embryo transfer systems previously proposed. These involve embryo transfer from 1-year-old females (juvenile scheme, generation interval 1·8 years) and from females after 1 lactation (adult scheme, generation interval 3·7 years), with use of males at similar ages. Though selection is less accurate than in conventional progeny testing, the annual rate of genetic improvement can be increased, and even doubled. If the number of transfers is restricted andm the inbreeding rate is limiting, the adult scheme for both sexes is preferred. A scheme with 1 024 transfers per year and 512 females milk-recorded per year will sustain a rate of genetic improvement some 30% above that possible by a conventional national progeny-testing programme. Because of the relatively small number of animals involved, it is argued that greater control over recording, breeding and selection should be possible, leading to a larger proportion of the possible genetic gains being realized in practice. Other advantages, and disadvantages of these systems, and their integration in dairy cattle improvement are discussed.

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Animal Science
  • ISSN: 1357-7298
  • EISSN: 1748-748X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal-science
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