Background: Genomic selection can be implemented by a multi-step procedure, which requires a response variable and a statistical method. For pure-bred pigs, it was hypothesised that deregressed estimated breeding values (EBV) with the parent average removed as the response variable generate higher reliabilities of genomic breeding values than EBV, and that the normal, thick-tailed and mixture-distribution models yield similar reliabilities.
Methods: Reliabilities of genomic breeding values were estimated with EBV and deregressed EBV as response variables and under the three statistical methods, genomic BLUP, Bayesian Lasso and MIXTURE. The methods were examined by splitting data into a reference data set of 1375 genotyped animals that were performance tested before October 2008, and 536 genotyped validation animals that were performance tested after October 2008. The traits examined were daily gain and feed conversion ratio.
Results: Using deregressed EBV as the response variable yielded 18 to 39% higher reliabilities of the genomic breeding values than using EBV as the response variable. For daily gain, the increase in reliability due to deregression was significant and approximately 35%, whereas for feed conversion ratio it ranged between 18 and 39% and was significant only when MIXTURE was used. Genomic BLUP, Bayesian Lasso and MIXTURE had similar reliabilities.
Conclusions: Deregressed EBV is the preferred response variable, whereas the choice of statistical method is less critical for pure-bred pigs. The increase of 18 to 39% in reliability is worthwhile, since the reliabilities of the genomic breeding values directly affect the returns from genomic selection.