History of USDA Dairy Evaluations
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History of USDA dairy evaluations

Year Event

1862

A Department of Agriculture is introduced by Lincoln and established by the 1865 Morrill Act

1895

USDA begins collecting milk and fat production records of individual cows

1908

USDA hires Helmer Rabild (photo) to organize a national milk-recording program after his success in organizing the first State program in Michigan (photo)

1912

An inbreeding experiment begins with repeated sire-daughter matings (photo)

1918

USDA leases many of its young bulls to farmers to develop proven sires; a total of 1,200 bulls were leased over the next 40 years (photo)

1922

USDA's Bureau of Animal Industry (Sewall Wright) defines relationships among animals and inbreeding coefficients (site 1, site 2, photo)

1925

Sorting and tabulating of cow records is done on electric machines (photo)

1925

Dairy breeds are described and yields compared (photo)

1935

A uniform series of eartags was developed to allow unique identification of all cows tested by DHIA (photo 1, photo 2, photo 3)

1935

Milk records are available for only about 2% of dairy cows (photo 1, photo 2)

1936

The first national sire evaluations are calculated from daughter-dam comparisons (photo 1, photo 2)

1947

A crossbreeding trial of Holsteins, Jerseys, and Red Danes is completed (photo)

1949

The research herd includes Holstein cows with 75% inbreeding, the highest ever recorded (photo)

1959

An IBM 705 computer replaces more than 100 employees and 100 individual adding machines

1961

Laboratory moves from Washington, DC, to Beltsville, MD

1962

Sire evaluations are computed using herdmate comparisons, which better account for differences in management (photo)

1964

National cow evaluations replace the regional evaluations of processing centers (photo)

1974

The modified contemporary comparison, which better accounted for genetic trend, is used in computing genetic evaluations (photo)

1976

Mexican Holstein milk yield is evaluated by USDA for the next 20 years

1977

Protein and solid-not-fat evaluations are computed (photo)

1978

Type evaluations for breeds other than Holstein are calculated at USDA

1981

Maternal ancestors are incorporated in cow evaluation

1989

Animal model evaluations use the relationships among all cows and bulls (photo)

1997

A website replaces computer tapes for distribution of genetic evaluations

1999

Laboratory moves (within Beltsville) from building 263 to building 005

1999

National Dairy Shrine survey ranks genetic evaluations the 2nd most positive and significant change in the last 50 years (AI is 1st)

2001

Laboratory survives a direct hit by a tornado (site)

2008

Laboratory celebrates 100 years (agenda, history, puzzles, slide show, registrants, sponsors, research leaders)

Current

For recent changes in genetic evaluations (1989–present), see changes in evaluations



  References
  • Hodgson, R. 1956. Dairy production research in the United States Department of Agriculture. J. Dairy Sci. 39:674.
  • Hodgson, R. 1986. Dairy production research by the United States Department of Agriculture 1895–1980: A historical review. USDA Misc. Publ. No. 1447, 64 pp.
  • King, G. 1973. The National Cooperative Dairy Herd Improvement Program: History, purpose, and organization. Dairy Herd Improvement Letter 49(4).

Compiled by Paul VanRaden

Last Modified: 12/05/2011