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Interpretive Summary: Inclusion of sire by herd interaction effect in the genomic evaluation for weaning weight of American Angus 

By: Sungbong Jang, Daniela Lourenco, Stephen Miller

A spurious negative genetic correlation between direct and maternal effects of weaning weight (WW) in beef cattle has been problematic for researchers and industry. Previous research suggested the covariance between sires and herds may contribute to this relationship. The objective of this study was to estimate the variance components (VC) for WW in American Angus with and without sire by herd (S×H) interaction effect when genomic information is used or not. Four models were designed to investigate the S×H effect. The restricted maximum likelihood (REML) and single-step genomic REML (ssGREML) were used to estimate VC. Breeding values were computed using single-step genomic BLUP and the validation was done through the linear regression method. Under REML, when the S×H was added to the model, both direct and maternal genetic variances were greatly reduced, and the negative covariance became positive. Similar patterns were observed under ssGREML, but with less reduction in the direct and maternal genetic variances and still a negative covariance. Breeding values from models with S×H were more accurate and had less bias than the other models. Although the S×H improved the model, this change in the evaluation model will cause severe reranking among key animals.

Read the full article on the Journal of Animal Science.