Background: As more and more genotypes become available, accuracy of genomic evaluations can potentially increase. However, the impact of genotype data on accuracy depends on the structure of the genotyped cohort. For populations such as dairy cattle, the greatest benefit has come from genotyping sires with high accuracy, whereas the benefit due to adding genotypes from cows was smaller. In broiler chicken breeding programs, males have less progeny than dairy bulls, females have more progeny than dairy cows, and most production traits are recorded for both sexes. Consequently, genotyping both sexes in broiler chickens may be more advantageous than in dairy cattle.
Methods: We studied the contribution of genotypes from males and females using a real dataset with genotypes on 15 723 broiler chickens. Genomic evaluations used three training sets that included only males (4648), only females (8100), and both sexes (12 748). Realized accuracies of genomic estimated breeding values (GEBV) were used to evaluate the benefit of including genotypes for different training populations on genomic predictions of young genotyped chickens.
Results: Using genotypes on males, the average increase in accuracy of GEBV over pedigree-based EBV for males and females was 12 and 1 percentage points, respectively. Using female genotypes, this increase was 1 and 18 percentage points, respectively. Using genotypes of both sexes increased accuracies by 19 points for males and 20 points for females. For two traits with similar heritabilities and amounts of information, realized accuracies from cross-validation were lower for the trait that was under strong selection.
Conclusions: Overall, genotyping males and females improves predictions of all young genotyped chickens, regardless of sex. Therefore, when males and females both contribute to genetic progress of the population, genotyping both sexes may be the best option.