Inbreeding in Danish dairy cattle breeds

J Dairy Sci. 2005 May;88(5):1865-72. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(05)72861-7.


The purpose of this study was to monitor current and predict future rates of inbreeding in the Danish dairy breeds. Calves born from 1999 until 2003 and registered as Danish Holstein (1,883,983), Danish Jersey (336,966), or Danish Red (261,047) were reference populations. Average complete generation equivalent was approximately 7. For calves born in 2003, average inbreeding was 3.9, 3.4, and 1.4% for Holstein, Jersey, and Danish Red, respectively. In recent years, effective population sizes were 49, 53, and 47, respectively. Based on coancestry statistics, future effective population sizes will be 43, 42, and 51, respectively. The effective number of founders, effective number of ancestors, and effective number of founder genomes were calculated. These measures of genetic diversity were all low for Holstein and Jersey and somewhat larger for Danish Red. The most important ancestors of Danish Holstein were Elevation (13.8%), Chief (10.9%), and Bell (8.5%). The most important ancestor of Danish Red was Momentum (9.4%), a Red Holstein-Friesian. The most important ancestor for Danish Jersey was FYN Lemvig (12.1%) with a large number of progeny in the reference population. The results of this study indicate the necessity for active management of the rate of inbreeding in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Dairying / methods
  • Dairying / trends
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Inbreeding*
  • Male
  • Pedigree
  • Population Density