Inbreeding and Line-breeding Definitions and Uses

This article has grown to be one of On Pasture's most read since we first ran it in October of 2014. While inbreeding is a form of line-breeding and the two are related, no pun intended, they are different. According to Jim Lents, owner of the Anxiety 4th line of horned Hereford cattle in Oklahoma, a line not outcrossed since the 1870's, the difference between inbreeding and line-breeding is the amount of genetic influence any single animal plays in any descendent's genetic makeup. For instance, any individual is made up of 50% of each of its parent's nuclear DNA (Mitochondrial DNA plays a role here; however, they are passed down only through the egg. In order to keep things simple we'll ignore mitochondrial DNA for the time being).  In other words, the sire and dam of your "best" cow each contributed 50% to that cow's DNA.  A daughter to that cow receives 25% each from her dam's parents and 25% each from her sire's parents, potentially watering down the quality and predictability of subsequent offspring. In line-breeding the idea is to alwa

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