Birth Date Rules


Accurate birth dates are important for the correct alignment of family trees and establishing genomic parent-progeny relationships of animals. Birth date interacts with many other phenotypic data, including multi-birth codes, lactation data of the animal, progeny of the animal, lactation data of the animal’s dam, breeding data of the animal’s dam (which includes breeding date and AI sire), and birth dates of the animal’s maternal siblings if available. Given all these factors, changing a birth date after initial acceptance can sometimes be complicated.

Estimated Birth Dates

Estimated birth dates can be entered manually or set automatically when a pedigree is created by CDCB (A-source). An A-source pedigree with an estimated birth date can be generated if a dam is entered into a pedigree (ex. In a Format 1/4/5/6 @ positions 37-53) and the ID of the dam is a novel, unique ID. The A-source pedigree that is created for the unique ID of the dam will have an estimated birth date that is 3 years older than the progeny.

Estimated birth dates can be entered in Format 1/4/5/6s manually for an animal by including an E at the end of the birth date field @ position 78. A birth date can be estimated to the month of the year, so if the best guess for the animal’s birth date is in July of 2023, entering 2023070E is appropriate. If only the year is known for a birth date, entering YYYY010E is appropriate, ex. 2023010E. Estimated birth dates appear on CDCB pedigrees as the 15th of the month they are submitted for, so it would not be unusual if it prints as 20230115.

The more accurately a birth date can be entered in the pedigree, the more we can guarantee an accurate family tree AND the more accurately this animal can be established in its cohort because birth date IS a factor in prediction modeling. Please only manually enter estimated birth dates if absolutely necessary.

Interactions between Birth Date and MBC

Multi-birth codes (MBCs) are indicators of the type of birth an animal originated from. MBC plays an important role in the logic of finding genomic relationships between animals, especially for dam-progeny relationships. Changing the MBC should NOT be used to circumvent the birth date rules. This can lead to inaccuracies and further genomic and pedigree errors down the line. Click here to see a brief description of the MBCs.

Why do MBCs interact with birth dates? Here’s some logic to help understand the rules we have in place that may involve MBC:
  1. A MBCs 1 or 2 indicates that the animal is a natural calf born of the dam. If the dam of animals with MBC 1 or 2 has lactation data, the dam should have a calving date that matches the birth date of the animal. The dam should only have one MBC 1 or two MBC 2 progeny per lactation.
  2. A MBC 3 or 4 indicates that the animal is an embryo transfer, and is born via a surrogate/recip dam. A MBC=3 describes most cases of embryo transfer. Animals with MBC=4 can originate from embryos that were split artificially in the lab before implanting, or embryos that split in utero after implantation. Animals with MBC=4 are considered clones because both of the animals originate from the same source DNA. Animals with either of these MBCs do not have to have a birth date that matches the calving date of the biological dam. There can be multiple progenies with MBC 3 or 4 for a biological dam within a lactation and they can also be born before the biological dam starts her first lactation.
  3. A MBC 5 indicates that the animal is a clone of another animal. When a DNA clonal relationship is detected with the original animal, a clone record can still be generated even though the birth dates for the two animals are different (often by years).
  4. A MBC 6 indicates that the pedigree/genotype belongs to an embryo. In this case, the birth date is an implant date. Correctly assigning MBC 6 is important, because when the live animal is born, the pedigree of the live animal and embryo gets merged (must meet criteria described in Dealing_with_clone_records)

Changing a Birth Date

Instructions for changing the birth date in Format 1 are available here

Birth date specific errors that return from phenotypic data (Format 1/4/5/6) return starting with 5, ex. 5Aa. All error documentation for phenotypic data errors is available here

Some general rules:
  1. The animal cannot be older than its sire or dam.
  2. The animal’s birth date can be greater than 548 days after their parents’ birth date, without verification.
  3. With verification, the animal’s birth date can be within 457-548 days of the parents’ birth date.*
  4. With verification, an embryo transfer animal can have a birth date within 304 days of their parents’ birth date.
  5. The birth date of an animal cannot be greater than 20 years from her first calving date.
  6. The input dam cannot have multiple progenies born within a calving interval with MBC=1 (This causes category 3G errors).
  7. We do not expect to receive birth dates on pedigrees prior to 1960, but we do not reject them.
  8. Depending on the country code of the ID, there are identification number series that correspond to specific year limits. Having a birth date for an ID that is outside the limit for that year will cause a rejection.

*Pedigree Verification is set @ position 89 with a 2 in Format 1/4/5/6

There are limits for how much you can change the birth date for an animal in a single format record/WebConnect submission. If you need to change the birth date more than the limit allows for, this can sometimes be achieved by submitting the birth date changes in increments. For example, if the limit is 90 days, you can change the birth date by 2 months at a time over multiple records/submissions (3 months at a time is not recommended because some months have >30 days). This is not guaranteed to work, as sometimes conflicts with lactation data, progeny, etc. can cause a snag.

Generally, if the animal has a known birth date, but has progeny, lactation data, or is linked to a dam with lactation data or other progeny, you can change their birth date by 90 days at a time with verification. Again, this is not guaranteed to work, as sometimes conflicts with lactation data, progeny, etc. can cause a snag.

If the animal has an A-source pedigree with an estimated birth, the birth date can usually be updated by a higher source if it does not bring them into conflict with their progeny. At most, these animals can have their birth dates changed 5 years at a time.

If you are having trouble changing birth dates, and are having trouble understanding the errors being returned, please create a Redmine ticket.

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