Inbreeding among nine million red cows has been mapped

The genetic exchange among European red cow breeds has been relatively large, but at the same time inbreeding has increased to varying degrees. This is the subject of an international research project.

By collecting pedigree data from 120 years of breeding work, the genetic variation within the red cow breeds has been mapped by Swedish researchers and their European colleagues. The results can be read in the latest edition of Husdjur.

The European red cow breeds play an important role in food production, both in Sweden and on a European level. They have good health, good functional characteristics and a good ability to adapt to new environments. However, red cows risk either being replaced by modern, high producing breeds, mainly bred for high milk production – or they are crossed with high-yielding breeds, leading to the phasing out of the original red breed.

In a European collaborative project, data for red cows from Sweden and eight other countries has been processed. The purpose of the study has been to improve the conditions for more sustainable breeding work. Pedigree information from a total of just over nine million cattle born between 1900 and 2019 was collected. In the basic material there were animals of 32 different breeds born in 30 different countries.

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