January 07, 2021

Interpretive Summary: A multiple-phenotype imputation procedure as a method for prediction of cheese-making efficiency in Spanish Assaf sheep

Interpretive Summary: A multiple-phenotype imputation procedure as a method for prediction of cheese-making efficiency in Spanish Assaf sheep

By Anne Zinn

Sheep milk is primarily intended to manufacture a variety of cheeses, but the sheep cheese industry could benefit from an improvement of traits related to the milk coagulation properties and cheese yield-related traits through genetic selection. A study recently published in the Journal of Animal Science aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a multi-trait phenotype imputation approach for cheese-making traits using phenotypes for milk traits in a sample of 1,145 ewes of the Spanish Assaf breed. If successful, the potential use of this approach to infer the technological properties of sheep milk samples during the cheese-making process would be of large interest for the dairy sheep industry.

The study assessed how milk traits can be used as predictors of the cheese-making traits in dairy sheep based on the correlation structure estimated among these two groups of traits after a simple correction through a general linear model. The procedure outlined may provide a practical tool to impute cheese-making traits without pedigree information and help the sheep dairy industry in future decision making. Additionally, this procedure can be applied to increase the number of available records in dairy sheep populations to improve the accuracy of cheese-making efficiency studies and facilitate the inclusion of cheese-making traits in genomic selection programs.

The full paper can be found on the Journal of Animal Science webpage.