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J Anim Breed Genet. 2008 Dec;125(6):382-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0388.2008.00731.x.

Analysis of genotype by environment interaction for milk yield traits in first lactation of Simmental cattle.

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  • 1Institute for Animal Breeding, Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture, Poing-Grub, Germany.


The breeding goal for Simmental cattle is derived for intensively managed dairy farms. Its suitability for extensive farms was addressed by analysing possible genotype by environment interaction (G x E) between the management levels for first lactation milk yield traits. A first analysis was performed with the data collected from 300 000 purebred daughters of 278 second crop bulls born in Bavaria in 1993 and 1994. The farms were classified by herd-year-effect, using the sum of fat and protein yields into two levels of management, either with 33 or 10% quantiles, corresponding to approximately 100 000 cows and 30 000 cows, respectively. The comparison was based on 'daughter yield' deviations (DYD). Correlations between DYD of extensive and intensive environments were 0.90, 0.91 and 0.87 for milk, fat and protein yield (kg) for 33% quantiles, respectively. Corresponding correlations for 10% quantiles were 0.85, 0.83 and 0.77. Despite high correlations, 50 out of 149 sires showed significant differences between DYD in different environments. Bulls with higher DYD for milk yield on intensive farms were superior in all environments. For the second analysis extensive and intensive farms in northern and southern Bavaria were chosen at random. Approximately 20 000 cows in each management class were used for the estimation of genetic parameters. In both regions phenotypic and additive-genetic variances were higher in the intensively managed herds. Likewise heritabilities were higher for fat and protein yield, but not for milk where higher heritabilities were observed in 33% quantiles. Genetic correlations between extensive and intensive environments were 0.97 and above (33% quantiles). Ten per cent quantiles led to lower genetic correlations (0.90-0.95). Although no serious re-ranking effects of sires were evident, the scale effect and the differences in genetic parameters should be taken into consideration in practical breeding.

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