Economic aspects of implementing genomic evaluations in a pig sire line breeding scheme
Replacing pedigree-based BLUP evaluations by genomic evaluations in pig breeding schemes can result in greater selection accuracy and genetic gains, especially for traits with limited phenotypes. However, this methodological change would generate additional costs. The objective of this study was to determine whether additional expenditures would be more profitably devoted to implementing genomic evaluations or to increasing phenotyping capacity while retaining traditional evaluations.
Stochastic simulation was used to simulate a population with 1050 breeding females and 50 boars that was selected for 10?years for a breeding goal with two uncorrelated traits with heritabilities of 0.4. The reference breeding scheme was based on phenotyping 13 770 candidates per year for trait 1 and 270 sibs of candidates per year for trait 2, with selection based on pedigree-based BLUP estimated breeding values. Increased expenditures were allocated to either increasing the phenotyping capacity for trait 2 while maintaining traditional evaluations, or to implementing genomic selection. The genomic scheme was based on two training populations: one for trait 2, consisting of phenotyped sibs of the candidates whose number increased from 1000 to 3430 over time, and one for trait 1, consisting of the selection candidates. Several genomic scenarios were tested, where the size of the training population for trait 1, and the number of genotyped candidates pre-selected based on their parental estimated breeding value, varied.
Both approaches resulted in higher genetic trends for the population breeding goal and lower rates of inbreeding compared to the reference scheme. However, even a very marked increase in phenotyping capacity for trait 2 could not match improvements achieved with genomic selection when the number of genotyped candidates was large. Genotyping just a limited number of pre-selected candidates significantly reduced the extra costs, while preserving most of the benefits in terms of genetic trends and inbreeding. Implementing genomic evaluations was the most efficient approach when major expenditure was possible, whereas increasing phenotypes was preferable when limited resources were available.
Economic decisions on implementing genomic evaluations in a pig nucleus population must take account of population characteristics, phenotyping and genotyping costs, and available funds.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Tribout et al., Genetics Selection Evolution, and BioMed Central.