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Linear and threshold model genetic parameters for disease, fertility and milk production in dairy cattle

  • H. N. Kadarmideen (a1), R. Thompson (a2) (a3) and G. Simm (a1)


This study provides estimates of genetic parameters for various diseases, fertility and 305-day milk production traits in dairy cattle using data from a UK national milk recording scheme. The data set consisted of 63891 multiple lactation records on diseases (mastitis, lameness, milk fever, ketosis and tetany), fertility traits (calving interval, conception to first service, number of services for a conception, and number of days to first service), dystocia and 305-day milk, fat and protein yield. All traits were analysed by multi-trait repeatability linear animal models (LM). Binary diseases and fertility traits were further analysed by threshold sire models (TM). Both LM and TM analyses were based on the generalized linear mixed model framework. The LM included herd-year-season of calving (HYS), age at calving and parity as fixed effects and genetic, permanent environmental and residual effects as random. The TM analyses included the same effects as for LM, but HYS effects were treated as random to avoid convergence problems when HYS sub-classes had 0 or 100% incidence. Because HYS effects were treated as random, herd effects were fitted as fixed effects to account for effect of herds in the data. The LM estimates of heritability ranged from 0•389 to 0•399 for 305-day milk production traits, 0•010 to 0•029 for fertility traits and 0•004 to 0•038 for diseases. The LM estimates of repeatability ranged from 0•556 to 0•586 for 305-day milk production traits, 0•029 to 0•086 for fertility traits and 0•004 to 0•100 for diseases. The TM estimates of heritabilities and repeatabilities were greater than LM estimates for binary traits and were in the range 0•012 to 0•126 and 0•013 to 0•168, respectively. Genetic correlations between milk production traits and fertility and diseases were all unfavorable: they ranged from 0•07 to 0•37 for milk production and diseases, 0•31 to 0•54 for milk production and poor fertility and 0•06 to 0•41 for diseases and poor fertility. These results show that future selection programmes should include disease and fertility for genetic improvement of health and reproduction and for sustained economic growth in the dairy cattle industry.



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Linear and threshold model genetic parameters for disease, fertility and milk production in dairy cattle

  • H. N. Kadarmideen (a1), R. Thompson (a2) (a3) and G. Simm (a1)


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