History: BARC Animal Genomics Research
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History of USDA dairy evaluations



Major events  |  Evaluation calculation  |  Computing sites  |  Organizational names  |  Resources



Major events

Year Event
1862 Department of Agriculture introduced by President AbrahamLincoln 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 Inbreeding experiment begins with repeated sire-daughter matings (photo)
1918 USDA leases many of its young bulls to farmers to develop progeny-tested 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 on electric machines (photo)

Dairy breeds described and yields compared (photo)
1935 Uniform series of eartags developed to allow unique identification of all cows tested by Dairy Herd Improvement Associations (photo 1, photo 2, photo 3)

Milk records available for only about 2% of dairy cows (photo 1, photo 2)
1936 First national sire evaluations calculated from daughter-dam comparisons(photo 1, photo 2)
1947 Crossbreeding trial of Holsteins, Jerseys, and Red Danes completed (photo)
1949 Research herd includes Holstein cows with 75% inbreeding, the highest ever recorded(photo)
1959 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 computed using herdmate comparisons, which better account for differences in management (photo)
1964 National cow evaluations replace regional evaluations of processing centers (photo)
1974 Modified contemporary comparison, which better accounted for genetic trend, used in computing genetic evaluations (photo)
1976 Mexican Holstein milk yield evaluated by USDA for next 20 years
1977 Protein and solid-not-fat evaluations computed (photo)
1978 Type evaluations for breeds other than Holstein calculated at USDA
1981 Maternal ancestors incorporated in cow evaluation
1989 Animal model evaluations use relationships among all cows and bulls (photo)
1997 Web site replaces computer tapes for distribution of genetic evaluations
1999 Laboratory moves (within Beltsville) from building 263 to building 005

National Dairy Shrine survey ranks genetic evaluations the 2nd most positive and significant change in the last 50 years (artificial insemination is 1st)
2001 Laboratory survives direct hit by tornado (site)
2008 Laboratory celebrates 100 years (agenda, history, puzzles, slide show, registrants, sponsors, research leaders)
2009 First official genomic evaluations
2013Calculation and distribution of genetic evaluations transferred to Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding; USDA continues research on evaluation methodology


Evaluation calculation

Changes shown in orange

Year Evaluation changed No./
year
Release months Traits included
1936 Bull (new) 1 Summer (exact month varied) Milk, fat
1940 Bull 12 Each month (bulls with many additional daughters since last evaluation re-evaluated) Milk, fat
1960 Bull 4 February, May, August, November Milk, fat
1964 Cow 2 January, July Milk, fat
1967 Bull/cow 3 January, May, September Milk, fat
1977 Bull 3 January, May, September Milk, fat, protein
1978 Bull/cow 2
January, July Milk, fat, protein (bulls only), type*
1985 Cow 2 January, July Milk, fat, protein, type*
1994 Bull 2 January, July Milk, fat, protein, somatic cell score (SCS), productive life (PL), type*
1995 Cow 2 January, July Milk, fat, protein, SCS, PL, type*
1997 Bull/cow 4 February, May, August, November Milk, fat, protein, SCS, PL, type*
2002 Bull 4 February, May, August, November Milk, fat, protein, SCS, PL, calving ease (CE), type*
2003 Bull/cow 4 February, May, August, November Milk, fat, protein, SCS, PL, CE (bulls only), daughter pregnancy rate (DPR), type*
2006 Bull 4 February, May, August, November Milk, fat, protein, SCS, PL, CE (bulls only), stillbirth (SB), DPR, type*
2008 Bull/cow 3 January, April, August Milk, fat, protein, SCS, PL, CE (bulls only), SB (bulls only), DPR, type*
2010 Bull/cow 3 April, August, December Milk, fat, protein, SCS, PL, CE (bulls only), SB (bulls only), DPR, cow conception rate (CCR), heifer conception rate (HCR), type*
*USDA calculates type evaluations for breeds other than Holstein; Holstein type evaluations calculated by Holstein Association USA


Computing sites

Year Owner Location Computer
1959 Commodity Credit branch, USDA New Orleans, LA IBM 705
1965 Navy Bureau of Personnel Arlington, VA  
1968 Computer Center, Statistical Reporting Service, USDA Washington, DC  
1970 Sears and Roebuck, Inc. Rockville, MD IBM 360
1973 National Agricultural Library, USDA Beltsville, MD IBM 360
1975 Washington Computer Center, USDA Washington, DC IBM 370
1987 USDA Computing Center Kansas City, MO IBM 370
1985 Cornell University
Database maintained at USDA Computing Center
Ithaca, NY
Kansas City, MO
IBM 3090
IBM 370
1990 Cornell University
Database maintained at Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory (AIPL), USDA
Ithaca, NY
Beltsville, MD
IBM 3090
IBM 9370
1993 AIPL (evaluation processing and database) Beltsville, MD IBM RS6000 P series
2002 AIPL (evaluation processing and database) Beltsville, MD IBM X series servers


Organizational names

Year Laboratory name Institute/Bureau name
1908 Dairy Division Bureau of Animal Industry
1926 Dairy Introduction Section Bureau of Dairy Industry
1929 Dairy Herd Improvement Investigations Bureau of Dairy Industry
1954 Dairy Herd Improvement Section Dairy Cattle Research Branch
1968 Dairy Herd Improvement Investigations Unit Animal Science Research Institute
1972 Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory (AIPL) Animal Physiology and Genetics Institute
1979 AIPL Animal Sciences Institute
1986 AIPL Livestock and Poultry Science Institute
2000 AIPL Animal and Natural Resources Institute
2012 AIPL Beltsville Agricultural Research Center


Resources

  • Hodgson, R. 1956. Dairy production research in the United States Department of Agriculture. J. Dairy Sci. 39(6):674–682.

  • 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).

  • Summary of detailed changes in USDA-DHIA genetic evaluations since 1989

Compiled by Paul VanRaden
Last Modified: 07/11/2014