Evolution of the genetic variability of eight French dairy cattle breeds assessed by pedigree analysis

J Anim Breed Genet. 2012 Jun;129(3):206-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0388.2011.00967.x. Epub 2011 Oct 6.


A pedigree analysis was performed on eight French dairy cattle breeds to assess their change in genetic variability since a first analysis completed in 1996. The Holstein, Normande and Montbéliarde breeds are selected internationally with over hundreds of thousands cows registered in the performance recording system. Three breeds are internationally selected but with limited numbers of cows in France (Brown Swiss, French Simmental and French Red Pied). The last two remaining breeds (Abondance and Tarentaise) are raised at regional level. The effective numbers of ancestors of cows born between 2004 and 2007 varied between 15 (Abondance and Tarentaise) and 51 (French Red Pied). The effective population sizes (classical approach) varied between 53 (Abondance) and 197 (French Red Pied). This article also compares the genetic variability of the ex situ (collections of the French National Cryobank) and in situ populations. The results were commented in regard to the recent history of gene flows in the different breeds as well as the existence of more or less stringent bottlenecks. Our results showed that whatever the size of the breeds, their genetic diversity impoverished quite rapidly since 1996 and they all could be considered as quite poor from a genetic diversity point of view. It shows the need for setting up cryobanks as gene reservoirs as well as sustainable breeding programmes that include loss of genetic diversity as an integrated control parameter.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / anatomy & histology
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Dairying*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Genetic Loci / genetics
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Inbreeding
  • Male
  • Pedigree*
  • Population Density
  • Probability