Thin and fat cows are often credited for low fertility, but body condition score (BCS) has been traditionally treated as a linear trait when genetic correlations with reproductive performance have been estimated. The aims of this study were to assess genetic parameters for fertility, production, and body condition traits in the Brown Swiss population reared in the Alps (Bolzano- Bozen Province, Italy), and to investigate the possible nonlinearity among BCS and other traits by analyzing fat and thin cows. Records of BCS measured on a 5-point scale were preadjusted for year-season and days in milk at scoring, and were considered positive (1) for fat cows if they exceeded the value of 1 residual standard deviation or null (0) otherwise, whereas positive values for thin cows were imputed to records below −1 residual standard deviation. Fertility indicators measured on first- and second-parity cows were interval from parturition to first service, interval from first service to conception, interval from parturition to conception, number of inseminations to conception, conception at first service, and nonreturn rate at 56 d after first service. Production traits were peak milk yield, lactation milk yield, and lactation length. Data were from 1,413 herds and included 16,324 records of BCS, fertility, and production for first-parity, and 10,086 fertility records for second-parity cows. Animals calved from 2002 to 2007 and were progeny of 420 artificial insemination bulls. Genetic parameters for the aforementioned traits were obtained under univariate and bivariate threshold and censored linear sire models implemented in a Bayesian framework. Posterior means of heritabilities for BCS, fat cows, and thin cows were 0.141, 0.122, and 0.115, respectively. Genetic correlations of body condition traits with contemporary production were moderate to high and were between −0.556 and 0.623. Body condition score as moderately related to fertility in first (−0.280 to 0.497) and second (−0.392 to 0.248) lactation. The fat cow trait was scarcely related to fertility, particularly in first-parity cows (−0.203 to 0.281). Finally, the genetic relationships between thin cows and fertility were higher than those between BCS and fertility, both in first (−0.456 to 0.431) and second (−0.335 to 0.524) lactation. Body condition score can be considered a predictor of fertility, and it could be included in evaluation either as linear measure or as thin cow. In the second case, the genetic relationship with fertility was stronger, exacerbating the poorest body condition and considering the possible nonlinearity between fertility and energy reserves of the cow.

Thin and fat cows, and the nonlinear genetic relationship between body condition score and fertility

CECCHINATO, ALESSIO;PENASA, MAURO;BITTANTE, GIOVANNI
2013

Abstract

Thin and fat cows are often credited for low fertility, but body condition score (BCS) has been traditionally treated as a linear trait when genetic correlations with reproductive performance have been estimated. The aims of this study were to assess genetic parameters for fertility, production, and body condition traits in the Brown Swiss population reared in the Alps (Bolzano- Bozen Province, Italy), and to investigate the possible nonlinearity among BCS and other traits by analyzing fat and thin cows. Records of BCS measured on a 5-point scale were preadjusted for year-season and days in milk at scoring, and were considered positive (1) for fat cows if they exceeded the value of 1 residual standard deviation or null (0) otherwise, whereas positive values for thin cows were imputed to records below −1 residual standard deviation. Fertility indicators measured on first- and second-parity cows were interval from parturition to first service, interval from first service to conception, interval from parturition to conception, number of inseminations to conception, conception at first service, and nonreturn rate at 56 d after first service. Production traits were peak milk yield, lactation milk yield, and lactation length. Data were from 1,413 herds and included 16,324 records of BCS, fertility, and production for first-parity, and 10,086 fertility records for second-parity cows. Animals calved from 2002 to 2007 and were progeny of 420 artificial insemination bulls. Genetic parameters for the aforementioned traits were obtained under univariate and bivariate threshold and censored linear sire models implemented in a Bayesian framework. Posterior means of heritabilities for BCS, fat cows, and thin cows were 0.141, 0.122, and 0.115, respectively. Genetic correlations of body condition traits with contemporary production were moderate to high and were between −0.556 and 0.623. Body condition score as moderately related to fertility in first (−0.280 to 0.497) and second (−0.392 to 0.248) lactation. The fat cow trait was scarcely related to fertility, particularly in first-parity cows (−0.203 to 0.281). Finally, the genetic relationships between thin cows and fertility were higher than those between BCS and fertility, both in first (−0.456 to 0.431) and second (−0.335 to 0.524) lactation. Body condition score can be considered a predictor of fertility, and it could be included in evaluation either as linear measure or as thin cow. In the second case, the genetic relationship with fertility was stronger, exacerbating the poorest body condition and considering the possible nonlinearity between fertility and energy reserves of the cow.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/2795799
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