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J Dairy Sci. 2013 Sep;96(9):5977-90. doi: 10.3168/jds.2012-6521. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

Genetic variance in micro-environmental sensitivity for milk and milk quality in Walloon Holstein cattle.

Author information

1
Animal Science Unit, Gembloux Agro Bio-Tech, University of Liege, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium. jvandenplas@ulg.ac.be

Abstract

Animals that are robust to environmental changes are desirable in the current dairy industry. Genetic differences in micro-environmental sensitivity can be studied through heterogeneity of residual variance between animals. However, residual variance between animals is usually assumed to be homogeneous in traditional genetic evaluations. The aim of this study was to investigate genetic heterogeneity of residual variance by estimating variance components in residual variance for milk yield, somatic cell score, contents in milk (g/dL) of 2 groups of milk fatty acids (i.e., saturated and unsaturated fatty acids), and the content in milk of one individual fatty acid (i.e., oleic acid, C18:1 cis-9), for first-parity Holstein cows in the Walloon Region of Belgium. A total of 146,027 test-day records from 26,887 cows in 747 herds were available. All cows had at least 3 records and a known sire. These sires had at least 10 cows with records and each herd × test-day had at least 5 cows. The 5 traits were analyzed separately based on fixed lactation curve and random regression test-day models for the mean. Estimation of variance components was performed by running iteratively expectation maximization-REML algorithm by the implementation of double hierarchical generalized linear models. Based on fixed lactation curve test-day mean models, heritability for residual variances ranged between 1.01×10(-3) and 4.17×10(-3) for all traits. The genetic standard deviation in residual variance (i.e., approximately the genetic coefficient of variation of residual variance) ranged between 0.12 and 0.17. Therefore, some genetic variance in micro-environmental sensitivity existed in the Walloon Holstein dairy cattle for the 5 studied traits. The standard deviations due to herd × test-day and permanent environment in residual variance ranged between 0.36 and 0.45 for herd × test-day effect and between 0.55 and 0.97 for permanent environmental effect. Therefore, nongenetic effects also contributed substantially to micro-environmental sensitivity. Addition of random regressions to the mean model did not reduce heterogeneity in residual variance and that genetic heterogeneity of residual variance was not simply an effect of an incomplete mean model.

KEYWORDS:

heterogeneity; micro-environmental sensitivity; residual variance

PMID:
23871372
DOI:
10.3168/jds.2012-6521
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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