The effect of increased female reproductive rates on selection response, on efficiency of progeny testing and on the openness of the nucleus was investigated in open nucleus breeding plans. Conventional progeny testing plans and closed nucleus plans are special classes of open nucleus plans. In the open nucleus plans, generation intervals and selection across tiers were optimized. The number of offspring per elite dam was varied from 1 to 41, progeny testing of young bulls in the female base population was varied from 0 to 100 test records and the size of the nucleus was varied from 250 to 2000 young bulls born per year. Also efficiency of selection was varied: efficient selection in T(heoretical)-schemes and less efficient selection in P(ractical)-schemes. Especially, selection of base parents was less efficient i n P-schemes.
The deterministic prediction model took account of variance reduction due to selection and reduction of selection differentials due to correlations between estimated breeding values of relatives (order statistics). For closed nucleus plans, the results of the model were verified with Monte Carlo simulation results.
By increasing female reproductive rates, genetic gain increased by a factor 0·08 and 0·16 for the T- and P-schemes respectively. The nuclei in P-schemes were less open, due to the less efficient selection in the female base population. Schemes that were less open benefited more from increased female reproductive rates because selection differentials in small nuclei increased more than those in large base populations. The optimal open nucleus plan became less open with increasing female reproduction. Generally, progeny testing of bulls reduced genetic gain (by up to a factor 0·1) but it also reduced inbreeding rates. Progeny testing was more efficient in schemes that were less open: in P-schemes with 41 offspring per dam, progeny testing increased genetic gain. With many offspring per dam there were fewer full-sib families, causing lower selection differentials due to order statistics effects. This effect could be prevented by increasing the size of the nucleus.