Today, more and more farmers are interested in testing their heifers genomically. Genomic breeding values have higher reliability compared to parent average breeding values, which is useful in mating programs to do better matches of females and bulls.
However, there are more benefits of genomic testing that can be used in mating programs.
The interest in genomic testing is growing among dairy farmers worldwide. Besides more accurate breeding values, farmers who genomically test their females get information about which animals are carriers of genetic defects.
That information can be used in mating programs to avoid the matings where both a female and bull who are carriers of the same genetic defect.
Most of the genetic defects we know today are recessive, which means that if two carriers of the same genetic defect are mated, one-fourth of the pregnancies will be affected, leading most commonly to an abortion of the pregnancy.
That is why it is of economic importance for the farmers to avoid matings where both individuals are carriers of the same genetic defect.
Genomic testing also offers the possibility to calculate genomic relationships between mating candidates. Genomic estimates of relationships are more accurate than pedigree information because they do not rely on pedigree completeness or correctness.
Besides that, genomic estimates of relationships can differentiate between animals with the same pedigree relationship, for example, full siblings, who inherited partly different genetic variants from their parents.