Researchers bring back Holstein bull lineage

Researchers have successfully brought back two genetic lineages of Holstein cattle. 

The Department of Animal Sciences at Pennsylvania State University worked with the National Animal Germplasm Program to pass along the Y chromosome from two bulls that have been gone since the early artificial insemination days. 

The American Dairy Science Association says more than 99 percent of Holstein bulls born using AI in the last decade trace their male lineage to just two bulls born in the 1960s.  Penn State researcher Dr. Chad Dechow says their work demonstrates the possibility of using semen from the 1950’s to reintroduce lost genetic variation.

The two bulls selected from the germplasm program were The Netherland Prince and Colantha.  Six calves were born to the Colantha lineage, and nine calves were born to the Netherland Prince lineage at the Penn State Dairy Production Research and Teaching Facility. One generation of mating the lost lineage bulls to elite modern females was sufficient to update the lost lineages to near breed average for most traits.

The Netherland Prince line shares no known common male ancestors with the two most common Holstein lines; the Colantha line does not share a common male ancestor after the 1890s.

The research is published in the Journal of Dairy Science.

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