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J Dairy Sci. 1991 May;74(5):1743-52.

Additive and nonadditive genetic variance in female fertility of Holsteins.

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Department of Dairy Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg 24061-0315.


Additive and nonadditive genetic variances were estimated for cow fertility of Holsteins. Measures of fertility were first lactation days open and service period as recorded and with upper bounds of 150 and 91 d, respectively. Six million inseminations from the Raleigh, North Carolina Processing Center were used to form fertility records of 379,009 cows. Data were analyzed with a model accounting for all additive, dominance, and additive by additive covariances traced through sires and maternal grandsires. Variance components were estimated by the tilde-hat approximation to REML. Heritability in the narrow sense was 2% for days open and .8% for service period. Dominance and additive by additive variance as a percentage of phenotypic variation strongly depended on imposition of upper bounds. Heritabilities in the broad sense ranged from 2.2 to 6.6% and were at least twice as large as heritabilities in the narrow sense. Effect of 25% inbreeding was only around an additional 3 d open. Specific combining abilities among bulls were estimated as sums of dominance and additive by additive interactions removing effect of inbreeding depression. Differences between maximum and minimum estimates were in the order of twice the estimated standard deviation, ranging from 1.5 to 6.7 d. Effects of inbreeding and specific combining ability could be jointly considered in mating programs following sire selection.

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