• Fertility of fresh and frozen sex-sorted semen in dairy cows and heifers in seasonal-calving pasture-based herds

      Maicas, C.; Hutchinson, Ian A.; Kenneally, Jonathon; Grant, Jim; Cromie, A. R.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen T.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme; Teagasc postdoctoral fellowship; Dovea Genetics; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-08-22)
      Our objective in this study was to evaluate the reproductive performance of dairy heifers and cows inseminated with fresh or frozen sex-sorted semen (SS) in seasonal-calving pasture-based dairy herds. Ejaculates of 10 Holstein-Friesian bulls were split and processed to provide (1) fresh conventional semen at 3 × 106 sperm per straw (CONV); (2) fresh SS at 1 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-1M); (3) fresh SS semen at 2 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-2M); and (4) frozen SS at 2 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-FRZ). Generalized linear mixed models were used to evaluate the effect of semen treatment and other explanatory variables on pregnancy per artificial insemination (P/AI) in heifers (n = 3,214) and lactating cows (n = 5,457). In heifers, P/AI was greater for inseminations with CONV (60.9%) than with SS-FRZ (52.8%) but did not differ from SS-1M (54.2%) or SS-2M (53.5%). Cows inseminated with CONV had greater P/AI (48.0%) than cows inseminated with SS, irrespective of treatment (SS-1M, SS-2M, and S-FROZEN; 37.6, 38.9, and 40.6%, respectively). None of the SS treatments differed from each other with regard to P/AI in either heifers or cows. The relative performance of SS compared with CONV was also examined [i.e., relative P/AI = (SS P/AI)/(CONV P/AI) × 100]. Frozen SS achieved relative P/AI >84%. Bull affected P/AI in both heifers and cows, but no bull by semen treatment interaction was observed. In heifers, P/AI increased with increasing Predicted Transmitting Ability for milk protein percentage. In cows, P/AI increased with increasing Economic Breeding Index (EBI) and with days in milk (DIM) at AI but decreased with increasing EBI milk subindex, parity and with DIM2. Cows in parity ≥5 had the lowest P/AI and differed from cows in parities 1, 2, or 3. Dispatch-to-AI interval of fresh semen did not affect P/AI in lactating cows, but a dispatch-to-AI interval by bull interaction was detected whereby P/AI was constant for most bulls but increased with greater dispatch-to-AI intervals for 2 bulls. In conclusion, frozen SS achieved greater P/AI relative to conventional semen than was previously reported in lactating cows. Fresh SS did not achieve greater P/AI than frozen SS, regardless of whether the sperm dose per straw was 1 × 106 or 2 × 106. A bull effect for all semen treatments, as well as a dispatch-to-AI interval by bull interaction for fresh semen, highlights the importance of using a large team of bulls for breeding management.
    • Whole genome association study identifies regions of the bovine genome and biological pathways involved in carcass trait performance in Holstein-Friesian cattle

      Doran, Anthony G; Berry, Donagh; Creevey, Christopher J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; Irish Cattle Breeding Federation; RSF-06-0353; 11/S/112; 2009183; et al. (Biomed Central, 2014-10)
      Background Four traits related to carcass performance have been identified as economically important in beef production: carcass weight, carcass fat, carcass conformation of progeny and cull cow carcass weight. Although Holstein-Friesian cattle are primarily utilized for milk production, they are also an important source of meat for beef production and export. Because of this, there is great interest in understanding the underlying genomic structure influencing these traits. Several genome-wide association studies have identified regions of the bovine genome associated with growth or carcass traits, however, little is known about the mechanisms or underlying biological pathways involved. This study aims to detect regions of the bovine genome associated with carcass performance traits (employing a panel of 54,001 SNPs) using measures of genetic merit (as predicted transmitting abilities) for 5,705 Irish Holstein-Friesian animals. Candidate genes and biological pathways were then identified for each trait under investigation. Results Following adjustment for false discovery (q-value < 0.05), 479 quantitative trait loci (QTL) were associated with at least one of the four carcass traits using a single SNP regression approach. Using a Bayesian approach, 46 QTL were associated (posterior probability > 0.5) with at least one of the four traits. In total, 557 unique bovine genes, which mapped to 426 human orthologs, were within 500kbs of QTL found associated with a trait using the Bayesian approach. Using this information, 24 significantly over-represented pathways were identified across all traits. The most significantly over-represented biological pathway was the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) signaling pathway. Conclusions A large number of genomic regions putatively associated with bovine carcass traits were detected using two different statistical approaches. Notably, several significant associations were detected in close proximity to genes with a known role in animal growth such as glucagon and leptin. Several biological pathways, including PPAR signaling, were shown to be involved in various aspects of bovine carcass performance. These core genes and biological processes may form the foundation for further investigation to identify causative mutations involved in each trait. Results reported here support previous findings suggesting conservation of key biological processes involved in growth and metabolism.