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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

Menu Logo Principal AgroParisTech Université Paris-Saclay


GABI : Génétique Animale et Biologie IntégrativeUnité Mixte de Recherche INRA - AgroParisTech

Genomic selection in beef cattle and regional dairy cattle

Genomic selection in beef cattle and regional dairy cattle
Genomic selection has been used in the three main dairy breeds since 2009 and then in the Brown breed since 2014. In 2015 it was developed for regional dairy breeds and the three main beef breeds. Today, 12 bovine breeds benefit from this methodology, which is in constant evolution. The expected benefits are an increased genetic progress, in particular for traits that are difficult to select for.

Context and stakes

Genomics selection has been used since 2009 in the three main dairy cattle breeds. It allows predicting the genetic value of an animal at birth using DNA array analysis that contain several tens of thousands of genetic markers. Genomic selection is a real revolution: it allows increasing genetic progress by using bulls that are very young but which have undergone testing. There is no more progeny testing on offspring before selection and the renewal of females is improved since their genetic values are better known than with performance and pedigree. The precision of genomic indexes is higher with a higher number of individuals in the reference population of genotyped and phenotyped individuals and their phentoype is more precise. In addition to the higher genetic diversity of beef breeds as compared to dairy breeds, one difficulty is the use of genomic selection in animal populations with a reduced number of genotyped and phentoyped individuals belonging to beef and regional dairy breeds.


The scientists and engineers belonging to the Joint Technological 3G Unit of GABI (which associates the INRA, ALLICE and the French Breeding Institute) developed new technology for genomic evaluation within the framework of the GEMBAL project (ANR-10-GENM-0014), which allows obtaining bovine genomic indexes in the French Genetic Evaluation System. This project was financed from 2011 to 2014 by the National Research Agency, APIS-GENE, Races de France, ALLICE and INRA (AIP Bio-ressources) and is being valorized by APIS-GENE. In 2015, genomic selection was developed for the three main beef breeds (Charolais, Limousin, Blonde d'Aquitaine) and four regional dairy breeds (Abondance, Tarentaise, Simmental and Vosgienne) for which a big effort was made in establishing national reference populations through national and regional R&D projects. Today, reference populations are available for the 12 French cattle breeds thanks to these efforts. Simultaneously, an important renovation of the methodology was performed in dairy breeds in order to benefit from current large female reference populations, to maximize the precision of evaluations and to handle a massive volume of genotyping data.


In October 2015, The joint trade organization France Génétique Elevage made the use of these new genomic indexes official. By 2020, it is probable that the 18 breeds undergoing selection in France will have entered the genomic era.  


Application of genomic evaluation in the three main beef breeds (Charolais, Limousine, Blonde d'Aquitaine) and in eight national dairy breeds (Holstein, Montbeliarde, Normandy) or regional breeds (Pie Rouge des Plaines, Brune, Abondance, Tarentaise and Vosgienne). Genomic selection for the Simmental breed is currently being decided due to its international context. 


C. Hozé, S. Fritz, F. Phocas, D. Boichard, V. Ducrocq, P. Croiseau, 2013. Efficiency of multi-breed genomic selection for dairy cattle breeds with different sizes of reference population. J Dairy Sci 97:3918
M. Gunia, R. Saintilan, E. Venot, C. Hozé, M. N. Fouilloux , F. Phocas, 2014. Genomic prediction in French Charolais beef cattle using high-density single nucleotide polymorphism markers. J Anim Sci 92:3258
T. Tribout, Barbat M., Saintilan R., Fouilloux M.N., Venot E., Phocas F., 2015. Mise en place d’évaluations génomiques nationales dans les populations bovines allaitantes françaises Charolaise, Limousine et Blonde d’Aquitaine. Communication orale aux Rencontres sur les Recherches autour des Ruminants, 2-3 décembre 2015, La Villette, Paris
P. Croiseau, A. Baur, D. Jonas, C. Hoze, J. Promp, D. Boichard, S. Fritz, V. Ducrocq 2015. A new Marker-Assisted BLUP genomic evaluation for French dairy breeds. Interbull meeting, July 9-12 2015, Orlando, USA.