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J Dairy Sci. 2005 Jan;88(1):386-91.

Genetic parameters for conformation traits in herds that differ in mean final score and completeness of pedigree and performance data.

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Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 53706, USA.


The objectives of this study were to assess differences in the heritability of type (conformation) traits between herds that differ in mean final score and completeness of pedigree and performance data and to estimate genetic correlations among these environments. Measurement of subjective characteristics, such as conformation traits, may be more difficult in herds with poor management conditions, and genetic evaluation of sires using data from such herds could lead to inaccurate selection decisions. Furthermore, missing pedigree data is a significant problem in many herds, and a lack of phenotypic data from maternal relatives may reduce the effectiveness of animal model evaluation systems. These hypotheses were examined using type classification scores of 1,728,836 first-parity Holstein cows (from 54,223 sires) that calved from 1993 to 2002 in 24,207 US dairy herds. These data included 480,927 records from progeny test daughters, but only 254,891 (47%) were from dams that had valid sire identification, and only 132,953 (28%) were from dams that had also been classified. Herds were grouped into quartiles by mean classification score, percentage of known maternal grandsires, and percentage of classified dams. Estimated heritability of final score was 0.20 in herds with mean score <74.5, 0.17 in herds with <25% known maternal grandsires, and 0.19 in herds with <18% classified dams. Conversely, estimates were 0.39 in herds with mean score >78.7, 0.35 in herds with 100% known maternal grandsires, and 0.37 in herds with >71% classified dams. Estimated genetic correlations between quartiles ranged from 0.86 to 0.95. Based on this study, it appears that improvements in animal identification and data collection in progeny test herds would lead to greater accuracy and stability of genetic evaluations for conformation traits in US Holstein cattle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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