Random regression test-day model for the analysis of dairy cattle production data in South Africa: Creating the framework
Genetic evaluation of dairy cattle using test-day models is now common internationally. In South Africa a fixed regression test-day model is used to generate breeding values for dairy animals on a routine basis. The model is, however, often criticized for erroneously assuming a standard lactation curve for cows in similar contemporary groups and homogeneity of additive genetic variances across lactation and for its inability to account for persistency of lactation. The random regression test-day model has been suggested as a more appropriate method and is currently implemented by several Interbull member-countries. This review traces the development of random regression methods and their adoption in test-day models. Comparisons are drawn with the fixed regression test-day model. The paper discusses reasons for suggesting the adoption of the random regression approach for dairy cattle evaluation in South Africa and identifies the key areas where research efforts should focus. © South African Society for Animal Science.