A dairy cattle breeding simulation program (DCBSP v.4.9) has been developed to teach undergraduate and graduate students animal breeding principles associated with selection for multiple traits in dairy cattle. The current version of the program was written in FORTRAN 90, and a web-based interface was developed for the students to interact with the program in the teaching environment. This software simulates a population of dairy cattle herds and artificial insemination bulls through several generations by integrating students' decisions about mating, culling, and selection of new heifers and bulls based on a multivariate animal mixed model evaluation and marker-assisted selection. All simulation parameters (e.g., number of herds and cows per herd, variance components, effect of genetic markers) can be defined by the administrator of the program in relation to the animal breeding course. During each running period, the program simulates the composition of each herd during a virtual year, generating new calves and new productive records and performing a genetic evaluation for all productive traits. A herd-specific productive summary of all demographic, productive, and genetic data is provided to the students at the end of each simulation period. After several running periods, the genetic trend can be evaluated, providing a realistic experience for the development of animal breeding skills that will be relevant to students with a basic knowledge of animal breeding. Earlier versions of this program have been used at several universities where it has proven to be a very useful teaching tool to illustrate the theoretical basis of animal breeding in livestock. © 2010 American Dairy Science Association.
- Dairy cattle