Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

April 1990


Published in J. Anim Sci. 1990. 68.4026-4038.


Effects of foster dams can be included in genetic evaluations using animal models with maternal effects in several ways. The alternatives discussed involve minor changes in computing strategies from strategies used with reduced animal models that predict breeding values for direct and maternal effects. The easiest alternative is to assign foster dams to groups by breed and time period and add equations for fixed effects of breed-period. Random and, assumed, independent effects of foster dams can be nested in breed-period groups. If foster dams do not repeat. then those effects can be absorbed into equations for other fixed effects, additive direct breeding value and breed-period effects by slightly modifying least squares contributions to coefficients of those equations. A third alternative for foster dams of the same breed is to add breeding values for foster dams for direct and maternal effects to solution vectors for breeding values. Equations are similar to those without foster dams, except that least squares contributions to coefficient matrix and right-hand sides are to equations for maternal breeding values and nongenetic maternal effects of foster dams rather than biological dams. Relationships and covariance between direct and maternal effects contribute mixed-model coefficients to direct and maternal breeding value equations of biological dams. This alternative basically requires only larger solution vectors for direct and maternal breeding values to accommodate foster dams that might not be included. The fourth alternative includes a vector of maternal breeding values for foster dams of each breed of foster dams and would require using rules of Westell to calculate coefficients due to relationships and fixed maternal genetic groups within each breed of foster dam. These alternatives do not require much additional computational effort compared with full or reduced animal model equations when the transformation to predict breeding values is used with Westell's rules to calculate coefficients due to relationships and genetic group effects due to prior genetic selection.