Shown are the three male calves of six recently born at Penn State's Dairy Farm, the result of a research project to reintroduce valuable genetic variance to the Holstein breed. Image: Amy Duke Amy Duke
Shown are the three male calves of six recently born at Penn State's Dairy Farm, the result of a research project to reintroduce valuable genetic variance to the Holstein breed.

Lost genetic diversity in Holsteins being recovered

Narrowing genetic base not a good thing for Holsteins because it leads to inbreeding, which could cause genetic defects, poor health and poor milk production.

Intense genetic selection can have an unintended side effect: the loss of genetic diversity.

Chad Dechow and Wansheng Liu, researchers in Pennsylvania State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, believe one cattle breed in particular — Holstein — needs a bit of help on the genetic diversity front. Thanks to their research, calves born recently at Penn State may help reintroduce valuable genetic variance.

"If all cows were genetically identical to each othe

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