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J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2017 Jul 1;8:56. doi: 10.1186/s40104-017-0189-x. eCollection 2017.

Variance components and correlations of female fertility traits in Chinese Holstein population.

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Laboratory of Animal Genetics, Breeding and Reproduction, Ministry of Agriculture of China, National Engineering Laboratory of Animal Breeding, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100193 China.
Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, 8830 Tjele, Denmark.
Beijing Sunlon Livestock Development Co., Ltd, Beijing, 100176 China.



The objective of the present study was to estimate (co)variance components of female fertility traits in Chinese Holsteins, considering fertility traits in different parities as different traits. Data on 88,647 females with 215,632 records (parities) were collected during 2000 to 2014 from 32 herds in the Sanyuan Lvhe Dairy Cattle Center, Beijing, China. The analyzed female fertility traits included interval from calving to first insemination, interval from first to last insemination, days open, conception rate at first insemination, number of inseminations per conception and non-return rates within 56 days after first insemination.


The descriptive statistics showed that the average fertility of heifers was superior to that of cows. Moreover, the genetic correlations between the performances of a trait in heifers and in cows were all moderate to high but far from one, which suggested that the performances of a trait in heifers and cows should be considered as different but genetically correlated traits in genetic evaluations. On the other hand, genetic correlations between performances of a trait in different parities of cows were greater than 0.87, with only a few exceptions, but variances were not homogeneous across parities for some traits. The estimated heritabilities of female fertility traits were low; all were below 0.049 (except for interval from calving to first insemination). Additionally, the heritabilities of the heifer interval traits were lower than those of the corresponding cow interval traits. Moreover, the heritabilities of the interval traits were higher than those of the threshold traits when measuring similar fertility functions. In general, estimated genetic correlations between traits were highly consistent with the biological categories of the female fertility traits.


Interval from calving to first insemination, interval from first to last insemination and non-return rates within 56 days after first insemination are recommended to be included in the selection index of the Chinese Holstein population. The parameters estimated in the present study will facilitate the development of a genetic evaluation system for female fertility traits to improve the reproduction efficiency of Chinese Holsteins.


Chinese Holsteins; Female fertility; Genetic correlation; Heritability

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