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J Dairy Sci. 2005 Apr;88(4):1540-51.

Genetics of parity-dependant production increase and its relationship with health, fertility, longevity, and conformation in swiss holsteins.

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Statistical Animal Genetics Group, Institute of Animal Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zentrum CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland.


Genetic analysis of production increase (ProdI), defined as an increase in production from early to later lactations, was conducted using data from the Holstein Association of Switzerland. This production increase describes the maturity rate of the cow. The data set contained 42,807 cows with a ProdI value. All cows had completed the first 3 lactations. Different formulas were derived for the computation of ProdI using 1) milk yields or energy-corrected milk yields and 2) yields from all 3 lactations or only 2 of them (first and second, first and third, second and third). Heritabilities of ProdI and genetic and phenotypic correlations of ProdI with somatic cell score, days to first service, nonreturn rate, longevity, and 27 conformation traits were estimated by univariate and bivariate sire models that included relationship among sires. Heritabilities for ProdI were low (0.06 to 0.08), but genetic variation among sires existed. For nonreturn rate and longevity, regressions on the sire estimated breeding values were estimated. Additive genetic correlations of ProdI were moderately favorable with somatic cell score (-0.22 to -0.33) and chest width (0.21 to 0.30), i.e., with traits often associated with long-lasting cows. Unfavorable correlations were found with angularity (-0.18 to -0.26). Regression coefficients from regressing ProdI on sire estimated breeding values for longevity tend to show favorable relationships between these 2 traits (0.10 to 0.20). Results show that animals can be selected for ProdI, as there is good genetic variation between bulls. ProdI is a potential trait to be included in selection indices, as it has favorable genetic relationships with economically important functional traits such as health, conformation, and longevity.

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