Webcast: GWAS to Identify Genetics that Influence Calf Health from Holstein and Crossbred Dairy Cows and Calves


Genome-wide association analysis is a powerful tool for explaining the phenotypic effects of dairy cattle on the genome and knowledge of genes associated with dairy cattle phenotypes. SNP & Variation Suite (SVS) has assisted the University of Minnesota, West Central Research and Outreach Center to determine the association of genetics groups with calf and cow health. These results are used to improve selection indexes for genomic evaluations for dairy cattle and will help improve the profitability of dairy production systems.

The University of Minnesota, West Central Research and Outreach Center has 300-cow dairy and unique populations of dairy cattle. The herd is comprised of purebred Holsteins, 1964 genetic control purebred Holsteins and crossbreds of Holstein, Montbéliarde and Viking Red, and crossbreds of Jersey, Normande, and Viking Red. Their 1964 Holstein herd is essentially “frozen” in time from 1964, and is one of the last true genetics resources in the Holstein breed. This unique Holstein population remains unselected from 1964, and they maintain this unique Holstein population.

Their team has genotyped their Holstein cattle, and have genotyped over 250 Holstein calves and cows, and over 650 crossbred calves and cows. We have genotyped over 450 animals with the 40K Bovine chip and over 200 with the 150K Bovine HD chip. Currently, they are conducting additional analyses that include Runs of Homozygosity, signatures of selection, and haplotype blocks. Genome-wide association analysis identified a number of genes and chromosome regions associated with calf health in contemporary Holstein cows and 1964 Holstein cows.

About the Presenter

Bradley Heins, Ph.D.

Bradley Heins, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Dairy Management at the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research Center in Morris, Minnesota. Currently, Dr. Heins conducts his research at the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center. The Center has a 130-head herd in a certified organic system, and a 160-head herd in a conventional grazing system. His research and extension program focuses on best management practices for dairy production, crossbreeding of dairy cattle, health and fertility and survival of Holsteins and crossbreds cattle, group rearing of calves, and renewable energy for dairy production systems. He also evaluates the genetics of health and productivity of Holsteins and crossbreds dairy cattle at the research center. He serves on the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture Board of Directors.