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The BREEDPLAN Advantage: Multi-trait Analysis

One of the key technical advantages of the BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation is that all quantitative traits are analysed together in a single multi-trait analysis. In contrast, most other beef genetic evaluations analyse these traits as discreet blocks of similar for a quicker and easier, but less accurate evaluation.

The benefits of a full multi-trait genetic evaluation like BREEDPLAN include:

  • Accounting for all genetic relationships between traits. This allows:
    • Data from other related traits to contribute to the calculation of individual EBVs.
      • For EBVs where the primary trait is recorded, information from related traits will also contribute and increase the accuracy of the genetic evaluation.
      • For EBVs where the primary trait is not recorded, information from related traits can provide some information for the calculation of the primary trait EBV.
    • Identification of curve benders where individual animals display traits which differ from expectations based on genetic correlations. This requires both traits to be recorded for an individual AND be analysed in the same analysis.
    • The calculation of selection indexes relies on the genetic relationships that exist between the traits. The accuracy of the selection indexes is therefore enhanced by accounting for and utilising this information in the calculation of the component EBVs that are used in the indexes.
  • The splitting of a genetic evaluation into trait groups for easier analysis can introduce error into the genetic evaluation by:
    • Creating selection bias where the animals recorded and subsequently analysed in a trait group are not representative of the animals analysed in other trait groups or the population as a whole. BREEDPLAN avoids this by analysing all animals in a single multi-trait analysis.
    • Interfere with the ability of the analysis to accurately compare animals. For example, an orphan calf should be placed in a separate management group at weaning because it hasn’t had the same opportunity to grow as it’s herd mates who are still on their mothers.
      • In BREEDPLAN, the management group information then applies to all subsequent trait records of the calf to account for the orphan status and subsequent effects on performance.
      • In a genetic evaluation where trait groups are analysed separately, the orphan status recorded with a growth trait may not be accounted for in the analysis of subsequent non-growth traits (e.g. for carcase traits) thus introducing an error into the analysis as animals are directly compared that have not had an equal opportunity to perform.

The downside of including all these traits in a single analysis is that it makes the analysis very large, complex, and subsequently more time consuming to compute. Fortunately, BREEDPLAN is supported by the Animal Genetics & Breeding Unit (AGBU), whose scientists are constantly working to allow BREEDPLAN to deliver the world’s most advanced genetic evaluation of beef cattle for our clients in a timely manner.

Click here to read more about the BREEDPLAN Advantages.