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J Dairy Sci. 2009 May;92(5):2270-5. doi: 10.3168/jds.2008-1806.

Short communication: effect of preadjusting test-day yields for stage of pregnancy on variance component estimation in Canadian Ayrshires.

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Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1.


Preadjustment of phenotypic records is an alternative to accounting for the effect of pregnancy within the genetic evaluation model. Variance components used in the Canadian Test-Day Model may need to be re-estimated after preadjusting for pregnancy. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of preadjusting test-day yields on variance components and estimated breeding values using a random regression test-day model in a random sample of Ayrshire cows. A random sample of 981 Canadian Ayrshire cows from 18 complete herds (average of 54.5 cows/herd) was analyzed. Two data sets were created using the same animals, one with unadjusted milk, fat, and protein yields, and one data set with test-day records adjusted for pregnancy effects. Pregnancy effect estimates from a previous study were used for additive preadjustment of records. Variance components were estimated using both data sets. Results were very similar between the 2 data sets for all estimated genetic parameters (heritabilities, genetic, and permanent environmental correlations). The relative squared differences were very small: 0.05% for heritabilities, 0.20% for genetic correlations, and 0.18% for permanent environmental correlations. Furthermore, paired Student's t-tests showed that the differences between the genetic parameters of data sets adjusted and unadjusted for pregnancy effect were not significantly different from 0. Results from this study show that preadjusting data for pregnancy did not yield changes in covariance component estimates, thus suggesting that preadjusting test-day records could be a feasible solution to account for pregnancy in the Canadian Test-Day Model without changing the current model. Estimated breeding values (EBV) were calculated for both data sets to observe the impact of preadjusting for pregnancy. Overall, the largest changes in EBV seen when preadjusting for pregnancy (compared with unadjusted records) occurred for nonpregnant elite cows, whose EBV declined. Preadjusting for pregnancy before genetic evaluations improves the estimation of breeding values by adding the negative impact of pregnancy back onto pregnant cow test-day records, causing an increase in their production EBV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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