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See detailNon-genetic sources of variation of milk production and reproduction and interactions between both classes of traits in Sicilo-Sarde dairy sheep.
Merai, A.; Gengler, Nicolas ULg; Hammami, Hedi ULg et al

in Animal (2014), 8(9), 1534-9

This work aimed to study the sources of variation in productive and reproductive traits of the dairy Sicilo-Sarde ewes and to further investigate the interaction between both classes of traits. After ... [more ▼]

This work aimed to study the sources of variation in productive and reproductive traits of the dairy Sicilo-Sarde ewes and to further investigate the interaction between both classes of traits. After edits, a database containing 5935 lactation records collected during 6 successive years in eight dairy flocks in the North of Tunisia was used. Total milked milk (TMM) in the milking-only period was retained as productive trait. The interval from the start of the mating period to the subsequent lambing (IML) and the lambing status (LS) were designed as reproductive traits. Sicilo-Sarde ewes had an average TMM of 60.93 l (+/-44.12) during 132.8 days (+/-46.6) after a suckling period of 100.4 days (+/-24.9). Average IML was 165.7 days. In a first step, the major factors influencing milk production and reproductive traits were determined. The significant sources of variation identified for TMM were: flock, month of lambing, year of lambing, parity, suckling length, litter size and milking-only length. Flockxmonth of the start of the mating period, parity, year of mating and litter size were identified as significant factors of variation for IML, while flockxmonth of the start of the mating period, parity and year of mating were identified as significant sources of variation for LS. In a second step, variance components were estimated using a three traits threshold mixed model, which combined LS as categorical trait and TMM and IML as continuous traits. Repeatability estimates were 0.21 (+/-0.03) for TMM, 0.09 (+/-0.02) for IML, and 0.10 (+/-0.05) for LS. Moreover, TMM and IML were found to be favorably associated for the flockx year of lambing effect (-0.45+/-0.18) but unfavorably associated for the animal effect (0.20+/-0.09). [less ▲]

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See detailA review of inversion techniques related to the use of relationship matrices in animal breeding
Faux, Pierre ULg; Gengler, Nicolas ULg

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment [=BASE] (2014), 18(3), 319-468

In animal breeding, prediction of genetic effects is usually obtained through the use of mixed models. For any of these genetic effects, mixed models require the inversion of the covariance matrix ... [more ▼]

In animal breeding, prediction of genetic effects is usually obtained through the use of mixed models. For any of these genetic effects, mixed models require the inversion of the covariance matrix associated to that effect, which is equal to the associated relationship matrix times the associated component of the genetic variance. Given the size of many genetic evaluation systems, computing the inverses of these relationship matrices is not trivial. In this review, we aim to cover computational techniques that ease inversion of relationship matrices used in animal breeding for prediction of the following different types of genetic effects: additive effect, gametic effect, effect due to presence of marked quantitative trait loci, dominance effect and different epistasis effects. Construction rules and inversion algorithms are detailed for each relationship matrix. In the final discussion, we draw up a common theoretical frame to most of the reviewed techniques. Two computational constraints come out of this theoretical frame: setting up the matrix of dependencies between levels of the effect and setting up some parts (diagonal or block-diagonal elements) of the relationship matrix to be inverted. [less ▲]

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See detailGenetic analysis of pig survival up to commercial weight in a crossbred population
Dufrasne, Marie ULg; Misztal, Ignacy; Tsuruta, Shogo et al

in Livestock Science (2014), 167

Records from 99,384 crossbred pigs from Duroc sires and Large White x Landrace dams were used to estimate genetic parameters for survival traits at different stages of the fattening period, and their ... [more ▼]

Records from 99,384 crossbred pigs from Duroc sires and Large White x Landrace dams were used to estimate genetic parameters for survival traits at different stages of the fattening period, and their relations with final weight. Traits analyzed were preweaning mortality (PWM), culling between weaning and harvesting (Call), culling during the farrowing period (Cfar), in the nursery site (Cnur), during the finishing phase (Cfin), and hot carcass weight (HCW). Because of the binary nature of PWM and culling traits, threshold-linear models were used: Model 1, including PWM, Call, and HCW; Model 2, including PWM, Cfar, Cnur, Cfin, and HCW. Both models included sex and parity number as fixed effects for all traits. Contemporary groups were considered as fixed effect for HCW and as random effects for the binary traits. Random effects were sire additive genetic, common litter, and residual effects for all traits and models. Heritability estimates were 0.03 for PWM, and 0.15 for HCW with both models, 0.06 for Call with Model 1, and 0.06 for Cfar, 0.14 for Cnur, and 0.10 for Cfin with Model 2. Litter variance explained a large part of the total variance and its influence declined slightly with age. For Model 1, genetic correlations were -0.36 between PWM and Call, -0.02 between PWM and HCW, and -0.25 between Call and HCW; correlations for litter effect were -0.15 between PWM and Call, -0.19 between PWM and HCW, and -0.21 between Call and HCW. For Model 2, genetic correlations were all positive between PWM and culling traits, except between PWM and Cnur (-0.61). Genetic correlations between HCW and the other traits were moderate and negative to null. Correlations for common litter effect were all negative between traits, except between Cfar and Cfin, and between Cnur and Cfin. Heritability of PWM and culling traits increased with age period. Therefore, selection for survival after weaning may be more efficient. The low genetic correlations between PWM and culling traits suggest that different genes influence pre- and postweaning mortality. The HCW was not correlated with the other traits. However, relationships are not strongly unfavorable, therefore selection for survival and high final weight is possible. [less ▲]

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See detailA method to approximate the inverse of a part of the additive relationship matrix
Faux, Pierre ULg; Gengler, Nicolas ULg

in Journal of Animal Breeding & Genetics (2014)

Single-step genomic predictions need the inverse of the part of the additive relationship matrix between genotyped animals (A22). Gains in computing time are feasible with an algorithm that sets up the ... [more ▼]

Single-step genomic predictions need the inverse of the part of the additive relationship matrix between genotyped animals (A22). Gains in computing time are feasible with an algorithm that sets up the sparsity pattern of A22inv (SP algorithm) using pedigree searches, when A22inv is close to sparse. The objective of this study is to present a modification of the SP algorithm (RSP algorithm) and to assess its use in approximating A22inv when the actual A22inv is dense. The RSP algorithm sets up a restricted sparsity pattern of A22inv by limiting the pedigree search to a maximum number of searched branches. We have tested its use on four different simulated genotyped populations, from 10 000 to 75 000 genotyped animals. Accuracy of approximation is tested by replacing the actual A22inv by its approximation in an equivalent mixed model including only genotyped animals. Results show that limiting the pedigree search to four branches is enough to provide accurate approximations of A22inv, which contain approximately 80% of zeros. Computing approximations is not expensive in time but may require a great amount of memory (at maximum, approximately 81 min and approximately 55 Gb of RAM for 75 000 genotyped animals using parallel processing on four threads). [less ▲]

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See detailPotential for assessing the pregnancy status of dairy cows by mid-infrared analysis of milk
Laine, Aurélie ULg; Bel Mabrouk, Hana ULg; Dale, Laura-Monica ULg et al

in Book of Abstracts of the 65th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2014)

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See detailImpact of Heat Stress on Production in Holstein Cattle in four EU Regions. Selection Tools
Carabaño, Maria-Jesus; Hammami, Hedi ULg; Logar, Betka et al

Conference (2014)

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See detailImpact of Heat Stress on Production in Holstein Cattle in four EU Regions. Selection Tools
Carabaño, Maria-Jesus; Hammami, Hedi ULg; Logar, Betka et al

Scientific conference (2014)

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See detailGenotype x Climate interactions for protein yield using four European Holstein Populations
Hammami, Hedi ULg; Carabaño, Maria-Jesus; Logar, Betka et al

Conference (2014)

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See detailGenotype x Climate interactions for protein yield using four European Holstein Populations
Hammami, Hedi ULg; Carabaño, Maria-Jesus; Logar, Betka et al

in Proceedings of the 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (2014)

Reaction norm models were applied to investigate genetic variation in heat tolerance of Holsteins across environments using long term protein milk yield test-day records and weather variables as proxy of ... [more ▼]

Reaction norm models were applied to investigate genetic variation in heat tolerance of Holsteins across environments using long term protein milk yield test-day records and weather variables as proxy of climate change. Data represented four European regions characterized by different management systems and environments. Daily protein yield changed across the trajectory of temperature humidity index (THI) for all studied populations, pointing out negative associations between warm conditions and cow performance. For most regions, additive genetic variances for daily protein yield decrease when THI increases. Antagonistic relationships between level and intercept were relatively limited for Slovenia compared to the three other regions. Rank correlations of estimated breeding values for three proposed heat tolerance measures ranged from 0.56 (Spain and Slovenia) to 0.81 (Walloon Region of Belgium and Luxembourg), indicating a possibility of genotype by environment (G x E) for some pairs of regions. [less ▲]

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See detailStrategies to Combine Novel Traits across Countries: Example of Heat Stress
Hammami, Hedi ULg; Vandenplas, Jérémie ULg; Carabaño, Maria-Jesus et al

in Interbull Bulletin (2014), 48

Nowadays, novel traits are of great interest. However, phenotypes are siloed and mainly not shared. Heat stress is becoming problematic affecting animals’ performances and their well-being. Heat stress ... [more ▼]

Nowadays, novel traits are of great interest. However, phenotypes are siloed and mainly not shared. Heat stress is becoming problematic affecting animals’ performances and their well-being. Heat stress tolerance as a novel trait is only addressed by isolated within-country research studies. Integration and combination of local and foreign information sources is needed for better accuracy genetic evaluations. Therefore, this study was aimed to test the potential combination of sources of external information towards the evaluation of heat stress tolerance of dairy cattle. Long-term cow performances linked to environmental descriptors (weather parameters as proxy to climate change) collected over 10 years under the temperate conditions of the Walloon Region of Belgium and the hotter and warm Mediterranean conditions of Andalusia and Castile-La-Mancha Spanish regions were available. A total of 1,604,775 milk, fat, and protein test-day (TD) records linked to average daily temperature humidity (THI) values for 3-day lag before each TD were considered. Under a first strategy considering free-access to raw-data (phenotype and pedigree), a joint evaluation was firstly run using reaction norm models where production traits were considered as function of THI. A Belgian and a Spanish evaluation were also run using the same model. An alternative strategy considering only access to external information (i.e. regression coefficients for additive genetic effects (â and their associated REL)) was tested. In this case, foreign â and their REL resulting from the Spanish evaluation were first converted to the Belgian trait and thereafter integrated in the Belgian evaluation using a Bayesian approach. Rank correlations between regression coefficients, â (of the 1,104 bulls having daughters only in Spain) estimated by Belgian evaluation and â estimated by the joint evaluation were moderate (<=0.70). Corresponding rank correlations between â estimated by joint and Bayesian evaluations were significantly higher (ranging from 0.967 to 0.998), indicating that the Bayesian evaluation integrating external information was in good concordance with the joint evaluation. Results from this study indicated that the integration of external information via the Bayesian approach has a good potential to improve the genetic evaluation of sparse and siloed novel traits. [less ▲]

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See detailUnified method to integrate and blend several, potentially related, sources of information for genetic evaluation
Vandenplas, Jérémie ULg; Colinet, Frédéric ULg; Gengler, Nicolas ULg

in Genetics, Selection, Evolution (2014), 46

Background A condition to predict unbiased estimated breeding values by best linear unbiased prediction is to use simultaneously all available data. However, this condition is not often fully met. For ... [more ▼]

Background A condition to predict unbiased estimated breeding values by best linear unbiased prediction is to use simultaneously all available data. However, this condition is not often fully met. For example, in dairy cattle, internal (i.e. local) populations lead to evaluations based only on internal records while widely used foreign sires have been selected using internally unavailable external records. In such cases, internal genetic evaluations may be less accurate and biased. Because external records are unavailable, methods were developed to combine external information that summarizes these records, i.e. external estimated breeding values and associated reliabilities, with internal records to improve accuracy of internal genetic evaluations. Two issues of these methods concern double-counting of contributions due to relationships and due to records. These issues could be worse if external information came from several evaluations, at least partially based on the same records, and combined into a single internal evaluation. Based on a Bayesian approach, the aim of this research was to develop a unified method to integrate and blend simultaneously several sources of information into an internal genetic evaluation by avoiding double-counting of contributions due to relationships and due to records. Results This research resulted in equations that integrate and blend simultaneously several sources of information and avoid double-counting of contributions due to relationships and due to records. The performance of the developed equations was evaluated using simulated and real datasets. The results showed that the developed equations integrated and blended several sources of information well into a genetic evaluation. The developed equations also avoided double-counting of contributions due to relationships and due to records. Furthermore, because all available external sources of information were correctly propagated, relatives of external animals benefited from the integrated information and, therefore, more reliable estimated breeding values were obtained. Conclusions The proposed unified method integrated and blended several sources of information well into a genetic evaluation by avoiding double-counting of contributions due to relationships and due to records. The unified method can also be extended to other types of situations such as single-step genomic or multi-trait evaluations, combining information across different traits. [less ▲]

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See detailEstimation of dominance variance for live body weight in a crossbred population of pigs
Dufrasne, Marie ULg; Faux, Pierre ULg; Piedboeuf, Maureen et al

in Journal of Animal Science (2014), 92

The objective of this study was to estimate the dominance variance for repeated live BW records in a crossbred population of pigs. Data were provided by the Walloon Pig Breeding Association and included ... [more ▼]

The objective of this study was to estimate the dominance variance for repeated live BW records in a crossbred population of pigs. Data were provided by the Walloon Pig Breeding Association and included 22,197 BW records of 2,999 crossbred Piétrain × Landrace K+ pigs from 50 to 210 d of age. The BW records were standardized and adjusted to 210 d of age for analysis. Three single-trait random regression animal models were used: Model 1 without parental subclass effect, Model 2 with parental subclasses considered unrelated, and Model 3 with the complete parental dominance relationship matrix. Each model included sex, contemporary group, and heterosis as fixed effects as well as additive genetic, permanent environment, and residual as random effects. Variance components and their SE were estimated using a Gibbs sampling algorithm. Heritability tended to increase with age: from 0.50 to 0.64 for Model 1, from 0.19 to 0.42 for Model 2, and from 0.31 to 0.53 for Model 3. Permanent environmental variance tended to decrease with age and accounted for 29 to 44% of total variance with Model 1, 29 to 37% of total variance with Model 2, and 34 to 51% of total variance with Model 3. Residual variance explained <10% of total variance for the 3 models. Dominance variance was computed as 4 times the estimated parental subclass variance. Dominance variance accounted for 22 to 40% of total variance for Model 2 and 5 to 11% of total variance for Model 3, with a decrease with age for both models. Results showed that dominance effects exist for growth traits in pigs and may be reasonably large. The use of the complete dominance relationship matrix may improve the estimation of additive genetic variances and breeding values. Moreover, a dominance effect could be especially useful in selection programs for individual matings through the use of specific combining ability to maximize growth potential of crossbred progeny. [less ▲]

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See detailGenetic parameters for individual birth weight, weaning weight and final weight of crossbred pigs from Piétrain boars
Dufrasne, Marie ULg; Wavreille, José; Piedboeuf, Maureen et al

Poster (2014)

Genetic parameters for birth weight (BWT), weaning weight (WWT), and final weight (BW) were estimated for crossbred pigs from Piétrain boars raised in test station. Estimates of direct heritability were ... [more ▼]

Genetic parameters for birth weight (BWT), weaning weight (WWT), and final weight (BW) were estimated for crossbred pigs from Piétrain boars raised in test station. Estimates of direct heritability were moderate (0.25 to 0.42), suggesting that genetic improvement of growth would be possible. Estimates of maternal heritability were 0.24 for BWT and WWT, and 0.05 for BW, indicating that the genetic influence of the dam on growth was not negligible until weaning. Genetic correlations between direct and maternal effects for BWT and WWT were moderate and unfavorable (-0.52 and -0.57 respectively). Direct genetic correlations were high and favorable between traits (0.40 to 0.75), suggesting that a high BWT is a good predictor to produce pigs with high final weight. Maternal genetic correlations between traits were low (0.01 to 0.03). Selection for higher BWT would increase final market weight but should be balanced with survival traits. [less ▲]

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See detailUse of high performance computing in animal breeding
Vandenplas, Jérémie ULg; Gengler, Nicolas ULg

in Book of Abstracts of the 65th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2014)

High-perfomance computing facilities proposing shared-memory and distributed-memory multiprocessors are becoming available. With those clusters, parallel computing could lead to increased performances and ... [more ▼]

High-perfomance computing facilities proposing shared-memory and distributed-memory multiprocessors are becoming available. With those clusters, parallel computing could lead to increased performances and problem sizes. However, to our knowledge and especially for variance components estimations, most software available in animal breeding, based on sparse matrices computations, do not allow parallel computing and are limited by memory accessible by the central processing unit, or allow parallel computing only for options with dense matrices computations, which limits anyway problem sizes due to storage of dense matrices. The aim was to propose simple and effective modifications for the BLUPF90 family of programs to reduce computing time with consideration of required memory. Modifications were based on academic free packages proposing solver and sparse inversion for sparse symmetric indefinite linear systems. First, modifications concerned the sparse inversion subroutine implemented in the package FSPAK. Rearrangements of 'do' loops to allow optimizations of computer operations by some compilers and addition of OpenMP directives were performed. The ordering operation was modified to more easily compare a multiple minimum degree algorithm (MMD; implemented in FSPAK) and a multilevel nested dissection algorithm (implemented in METIS 4.0.3). Second, the package PARDISO Version 5.0.0 was used instead of FSPAK. This package proposes in particular a parallel solver and sparse inversion on shared-memory multiprocessors. Modified FSPAK and PARDISO were compared to original FSPAK using MMD through REMLF90. Different models, such as univariate or bivariate (random regressions) test-day animal and single-step genomic models, were tested. All jobs were run 5 times. With an appropriate ordering algorithm, speedup for each REMLF90 iteration were up to 7.5 for modified FSPAK and up to 22.8 for PARDISO with 2 threads. With 4 threads, speedup increased to 8.3 and 32.5, respectively. [less ▲]

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See detailUse of high performance computing in animal breeding
Vandenplas, Jérémie ULg; Gengler, Nicolas ULg

in Book of Abstracts of the 65th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2014)

High-perfomance computing facilities proposing shared-memory and distributed-memory multiprocessors are becoming available. With those clusters, parallel computing could lead to increased performances and ... [more ▼]

High-perfomance computing facilities proposing shared-memory and distributed-memory multiprocessors are becoming available. With those clusters, parallel computing could lead to increased performances and problem sizes. However, to our knowledge and especially for variance components estimations, most software available in animal breeding, based on sparse matrices computations, do not allow parallel computing and are limited by memory accessible by the central processing unit, or allow parallel computing only for options with dense matrices computations, which limits anyway problem sizes due to storage of dense matrices. The aim was to propose simple and effective modifications for the BLUPF90 family of programs to reduce computing time with consideration of required memory. Modifications were based on academic free packages proposing solver and sparse inversion for sparse symmetric indefinite linear systems. First, modifications concerned the sparse inversion subroutine implemented in the package FSPAK. Rearrangements of 'do' loops to allow optimizations of computer operations by some compilers and addition of OpenMP directives were performed. The ordering operation was modified to more easily compare a multiple minimum degree algorithm (MMD; implemented in FSPAK) and a multilevel nested dissection algorithm (implemented in METIS 4.0.3). Second, the package PARDISO Version 5.0.0 was used instead of FSPAK. This package proposes in particular a parallel solver and sparse inversion on shared-memory multiprocessors. Modified FSPAK and PARDISO were compared to original FSPAK using MMD through REMLF90. Different models, such as univariate or bivariate (random regressions) test-day animal and single-step genomic models, were tested. All jobs were run 5 times. With an appropriate ordering algorithm, speedup for each REMLF90 iteration were up to 7.5 for modified FSPAK and up to 22.8 for PARDISO with 2 threads. With 4 threads, speedup increased to 8.3 and 32.5, respectively. [less ▲]

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