Genomic Prediction for Twin Pregnancies
Zoetis Genetics, 333 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, USA
Zoetis Outcomes Research, 333 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Irina Garcia-Ispierto
Received: 27 January 2021
Revised: 25 February 2021
Accepted: 1 March 2021
Published: 16 March 2021
Twinning in dairy cattle is caused by many different factors, both genetic (i.e., inherited) and non-genetic (i.e., animal management). In dairy operations, twinning is an undesirable trait associated with other reproductive and metabolic diseases, higher operational costs, and higher rates of culling on farm. The animal welfare and economic impacts have resulted in the development of a genomic prediction for twinning (i.e., TWIN) by Zoetis such that producers can make informed breeding decisions for breeding Holstein females that are less likely to become pregnant with twins in a given lactation. This prediction is included in a holistic breeding tool (i.e., selection index) for producers so that they can improve multiple health, fertility, and production traits in parallel with reducing twinning when making breeding decisions for future generations. The objectives of the present study were (1) to describe how the twinning prediction was developed (and included in a selection index), (2) show that the prediction works effectively using real life farm data, and (3) propose how this genetic tool can be used in collaboration with management practices to proactively reduce twin pregnancies on farm. The results of this study provide evidence that twinning can be proactively managed on dairy farms using genetically powered tools.