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Genetic parameters for producer-recorded health data in Canadian Holstein cattle

  • T. F.-O. Neuenschwander (a1), F. Miglior (a2) (a3), J. Jamrozik (a1), O. Berke (a4), D. F. Kelton (a4) and L. R. Schaeffer (a1)...

Health traits are of paramount importance for economic dairy production. Improvement in liability to diseases has been made with better management practices, but genetic aspects of health traits have received less attention. Dairy producers in Canada have been recording eight health traits (mastitis (MAST), lameness (LAME), cystic ovarian disease (COD), left displaced abomasum (LDA), ketosis (KET), metritis (MET), milk fever (MF) and retained placenta (RP)) since April 2007. Genetic analyses of these traits were carried out in this study for the Holstein breed. Edits on herd distributions of recorded diseases were applied to the data to ensure a sufficient quality of recording. Traits were analysed either individually (MAST, LAME, COD) or were grouped according to biological similarities (LDA and KET, and MET, MF and RP) and analysed with multiple-trait models. Data included 46 104 cases of any of the above diseases. Incidence ranged from 2.3% for MF to 9.7% for MAST. MET and KET also had an incidence below 4.0%. Variance components were estimated using four different sire threshold models. The differences between models resulted from the inclusion of days at risk (DAR) and a cow effect, in addition to herd, parity and sire effects. Models were compared using mean squared error statistic. Mean squared error favoured, in general, the sire and cow within sire model with regression on DAR included. Heritabilities on the liability scale were between 0.02 (MET) and 0.21 (LDA). There was a moderate, positive genetic correlation between LDA and KET (0.58), and between MET and RP (0.79).

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