Genotyping: Analyse and compare constantly
Genomics and genotyping undoubtedly mark the end of an era, that of star bulls. In fact, the establishment of indices was based on phenotype studies, i.e. observation of apparent characteristics linked to genes and heredity. This method required plenty of time and energy. It also tended to select breeding animals which rapidly took on the status of stars because they had the monopoly over certain characteristics.
Genomics and genotyping (which aims to determine the identity of a genetic variation, in a specific location on all or part of the genome) has made it possible to save a considerable amount of time in understanding the value of a male or female (analysis starts at birth, or even the embryo stage), compare it, and create groups of breeding animals with common characteristics rather than a single individual.
The geneticists at INRA will then translate this “portrait” into a map detailing the significance of the presence of a particular characteristic (e.g. fertility), specific to the individual. Then this map will be compared to that of the ancestors to see if this same characteristic has been transmitted.
Statistically it will then be possible to measure the significance of this gene for the phenotype being sought by comparison with the widest possible group of individuals presenting the same characteristics. If a significant link is demonstrated the marker(s) concerned will be considered to be performance predictors for the characteristic being sought and the quality of the animal will be highlighted.
For the farmer choice could therefore be widened to a group of bulls and no longer limited to a single breeding animal.