International course on "The design and optimisation of dairy cattle breeding schemes"


Teacher: Prof. Dr. Johan van Arendonk

Animal Breeding and Genetics Centre, Wageningen University



General aim:

This course focuses on the definition of breeding objectives and thgroup-2007.jpge genetic evaluation of breeding strategies. To achieve this, much of the course is devoted to the general principles involved in deriving and evaluating the breeding objective, making selection decisions between animals, designing breeding strategies and determining which strategies will make optimum progress. What is presented is a selection of some of the more common tools used in defining breeding objectives and designing and evaluating breeding strategies. These tools should be adequate to tackle many basic practical problems in animal breeding and provide background to using more complex methods.


Where and when:

This one-week course will be given in Poznan (Poland) at the end of June 2007.



The course will consist of a series of lectures (3 hours spread over the day), exercises and discussions. Participants will work in groups during the day to make the exercises which will focus on the basic understanding of principles explained in the lectures. Each day will be concluded by a session to present results and to discuss the topics related to the material covered so far.



  • 1. Basic principles of response to selection and design of breeding programs.
  • 2. Breeding goals and deriving economic weights
  • 3. Prediction of genetic gain
  • 4. Long-term consequences of artificial selection
  • 5. Balancing inbreeding and genetic gain



The notes will be produced that describe the material covered in this course. Material for exercise will be available (including answers). The SelAction software will be used for the practicals as well as the case study.



It is assumed that participants have basic knowledge on quantitative genetics including (basic) selection index theory, understanding of genetic parameters and basics elements involved in prediction of genetic gain. This can best be summarised as knowledge of Falconer's book on "Introduction to quantitative genetics".



General set up of the course:

Each day of the course will have the following set-up:

8.30-10.30: Lectures

10.30-12.00: Work in groups on problems or case

13.00-14.00: Lecture

14.00-16.00: Work in groups on problems or case

16.00-17.30: Presentation by students of solutions to problems and discussion.



Johan van Arendonk

Wageningen, 23 March 2007