Economic evaluation of genomic breeding programs

J Dairy Sci. 2009 Jan;92(1):382-91. doi: 10.3168/jds.2008-1310.


The objective of this study was to compare a conventional dairy cattle breeding program characterized by a progeny testing scheme with different scenarios of genomic breeding programs. The ultimate economic evaluation criterion was discounted profit reflecting discounted returns minus discounted costs per cow in a balanced breeding goal of production and functionality. A deterministic approach mainly based on the gene flow method and selection index calculations was used to model a conventional progeny testing program and different scenarios of genomic breeding programs. As a novel idea, the modeling of the genomic breeding program accounted for the proportion of farmers waiting for daughter records of genotyped young bulls before using them for artificial insemination. Technical and biological coefficients for modeling were chosen to correspond to a German breeding organization. The conventional breeding program for 50 test bulls per year within a population of 100,000 cows served as a base scenario. Scenarios of genomic breeding programs considered the variation of costs for genotyping, selection intensity of cow sires, proportion of farmers waiting for daughter records of genotyped young bulls, and different accuracies of genomic indices for bulls and cows. Given that the accuracies of genomic indices are greater than 0.70, a distinct economic advantage was found for all scenarios of genomic breeding programs up to factor 2.59, mainly due to the reduction in generation intervals. Costs for genotyping were negligible when focusing on a population-wide perspective and considering additional costs for herdbook registration, milk recording, or keeping of bulls, especially if there is no need for yearly recalculation of effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms. Genomic breeding programs generated a higher discounted profit than a conventional progeny testing program for all scenarios where at least 20% of the inseminations were done by genotyped young bulls without daughter records. Evaluation of levels of annual genetic gain for individual traits revealed the same potential for low heritable traits (h(2) = 0.05) compared with moderate heritable traits (h(2) = 0.30), preconditioning highly accurate genomic indices of 0.90. The final economic success of genomic breeding programs strongly depends on the complete abdication of any forms of progeny testing to reduce costs and generation intervals, but such a strategy implies the willingness of the participating milk producers.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding / economics*
  • Breeding / methods
  • Cattle / genetics
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Dairying / economics*
  • Dairying / methods*
  • Female
  • Gene Flow
  • Genome*
  • Germany
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic