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Pedigree analysis of eight Spanish beef cattle breeds

  • Juan Pablo Gutiérrez1Email author,
  • Juan Altarriba2,
  • Clara Díaz3,
  • Raquel Quintanilla4, 5,
  • Javier Cañón1 and
  • Jesús Piedrafita4
Genetics Selection Evolution200335:43

Received: 16 November 2001

Accepted: 7 August 2002

Published: 15 January 2003


The genetic structure of eight Spanish autochthonous populations (breeds) of beef cattle were studied from pedigree records. The populations studied were: Alistana and Sayaguesa (minority breeds), Avileña – Negra Ibérica and Morucha ("dehesa" breeds, with a scarce incidence of artificial insemination), and mountain breeds, including Asturiana de los Valles, Asturiana de la Montaña and Pirenaica, with extensive use of AI. The Bruna dels Pirineus breed possesses characteristics which make its classification into one of the former groups difficult. There was a large variation between breeds both in the census and the number of herds. Generation intervals ranged from 3.7 to 5.5 years, tending to be longer as the population size was larger. The effective numbers of herds suggest that a small number of herds behaves as a selection nucleus for the rest of the breed. The complete generation equivalent has also been greatly variable, although in general scarce, with the exception of the Pirenaica breed, with a mean of 3.8. Inbreeding effective population sizes were actually small (21 to 127), especially in the mountain-type breeds. However, the average relatedness computed for these breeds suggests that a slight exchange of animals between herds will lead to a much more favourable evolution of inbreeding. The effective number of founders and ancestors were also variable among breeds, although in general the breeds behaved as if they were founded by a small number of animals (25 to 163).


beef breedsinbreedingprobability of gene originconservation

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Authors’ Affiliations

Departamento de Producción Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Departamento de Anatomía y Genética, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
Departamento de Mejora Genética Animal, INIA, Madrid, Spain
Departament de Ciència Animal i dels Aliments, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Station de génétique quantitative et appliquée, Inra, Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, France


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2003