The levels of artificial insemination and missing sire information make genomic selection not always beneficial in meat sheep

Animal. 2021 Feb;15(2):100040. doi: 10.1016/j.animal.2020.100040. Epub 2021 Jan 11.


Numerous meat sheep breeding programs in developed and developing countries are characterized by incomplete sire information and a predominant use of natural matings. These two parameters potentially affect the benefit of genomic selection (GS), especially for the selection of a late-in-life trait. Using stochastic simulations, the genetic gains obtained using genomic and conventional strategies for a maternal trait were evaluated in meat sheep population. Natural mating and artificial insemination (AI)-based designs, inspired by the current diversity of designs used for French meat sheep breeds, were modeled and three genomic strategies were tested and compared with a conventional selection strategy: parentage assignment, GS based on a male or a male and female reference population. Genomic selection based on a male reference population did not always outperform conventional selection. Its benefit depended on the design, the level of missing information on dam sires, and the level of AI. Genomic selection based on a male and female reference population always outperformed the conventional selection strategy, even if only 25 % of the females in the nucleus were genotyped.

Keywords: Breeding program; Genetic gain; Genomic selection; Small ruminants; Stochastic simulations.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Genome*
  • Genomics
  • Insemination, Artificial / veterinary
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sheep / genetics