In this study, we aimed to investigate differences in the genetics of fertility traits (heritability of traits and correlations between traits in divergent environments) in dairy cows of different production levels defined on the basis of the herd-average daily milk energy output (herd-dMEO). Data were obtained from Holstein-Friesian (n = 37,359 for fertility traits, 381,334 for dMEO), Brown Swiss (n = 79,638 for fertility traits, 665,697 for dMEO), and Simmental cows (n = 63,048 for fertility traits, 448,445 for dMEO) reared in northeastern Italy. Fertility traits under study were interval from calving to first service, interval from first service to conception, days open, calving interval, calving rate, and nonreturn rate at d 56. We classified herds into low and high productivity based on the herd-average dMEO (inferred using mixed effects models). We estimated genetic parameters using Bayesian bivariate animal models, where expressions of a phenotype in the low and high dMEO herds were taken as being different—albeit correlated—traits. Fertility traits were more favorable in Simmental than in Holstein-Friesian cows, whereas for all traits, Holstein-Friesian had the highest estimates of intraherd heritability [ranging from 0.021 (0.006–0.038) to 0.126 (0.10–0.15)] and Simmental the lowest [ranging from 0.008 (0.001–0.017) to 0.101 (0.08–0.12)]. The genetic correlations between fertility traits and dMEO were moderate and unfavorable, ranging, in absolute values, from 0.527 (0.37–0.68) to 0.619 (0.50–0.73) in Holstein-Friesian; from 0.339 (0.20–0.47) to 0.556 (0.45–0.66) in Brown Swiss; and from 0.340 (0.10–0.60) to 0.475 (0.33–0.61) in Simmental cattle. The only exception was the nonreturn rate at d 56, which had weak genetic correlations with dMEO in all 3 breeds. The herd correlations between fertility and dMEO tended to be modest and favorable and the residual correlations modest and variable. The heritability of fertility traits tended to be greater in the low dMEO than in the high dMEO herds in the case of the Holstein-Friesians, but not in the case of the Brown Swiss or Simmentals. The additive genetic correlations between fertility traits in the low and high dMEO herds were always lower than 1 [0.329 (−0.17 to 0.85) to 0.934 (0.86 to 0.99)] for all traits considered in all breeds. The correlation was particularly low for the threshold characters and the interval from first service to conception in Holstein-Friesian, suggesting that the relative performances of genotypes vary significantly between herds of different dMEO levels. Although there was large variability in the estimates, results might support making separate genetic evaluations of fertility in the different herd production groups. Our results also indicate that Simmental, a dual-purpose breed, has higher fertility and lower environmental sensitivity than Holstein-Friesian, with Brown Swiss being intermediate.

Genetic parameters for fertility traits assessed in herds divergent in milk energy output in Holstein-Friesian, Brown Swiss, and Simmental cattle

Martinez Castillero M.;Pegolo S.;Finocchiaro R.;Bittante G.;Cecchinato A.
2020

Abstract

In this study, we aimed to investigate differences in the genetics of fertility traits (heritability of traits and correlations between traits in divergent environments) in dairy cows of different production levels defined on the basis of the herd-average daily milk energy output (herd-dMEO). Data were obtained from Holstein-Friesian (n = 37,359 for fertility traits, 381,334 for dMEO), Brown Swiss (n = 79,638 for fertility traits, 665,697 for dMEO), and Simmental cows (n = 63,048 for fertility traits, 448,445 for dMEO) reared in northeastern Italy. Fertility traits under study were interval from calving to first service, interval from first service to conception, days open, calving interval, calving rate, and nonreturn rate at d 56. We classified herds into low and high productivity based on the herd-average dMEO (inferred using mixed effects models). We estimated genetic parameters using Bayesian bivariate animal models, where expressions of a phenotype in the low and high dMEO herds were taken as being different—albeit correlated—traits. Fertility traits were more favorable in Simmental than in Holstein-Friesian cows, whereas for all traits, Holstein-Friesian had the highest estimates of intraherd heritability [ranging from 0.021 (0.006–0.038) to 0.126 (0.10–0.15)] and Simmental the lowest [ranging from 0.008 (0.001–0.017) to 0.101 (0.08–0.12)]. The genetic correlations between fertility traits and dMEO were moderate and unfavorable, ranging, in absolute values, from 0.527 (0.37–0.68) to 0.619 (0.50–0.73) in Holstein-Friesian; from 0.339 (0.20–0.47) to 0.556 (0.45–0.66) in Brown Swiss; and from 0.340 (0.10–0.60) to 0.475 (0.33–0.61) in Simmental cattle. The only exception was the nonreturn rate at d 56, which had weak genetic correlations with dMEO in all 3 breeds. The herd correlations between fertility and dMEO tended to be modest and favorable and the residual correlations modest and variable. The heritability of fertility traits tended to be greater in the low dMEO than in the high dMEO herds in the case of the Holstein-Friesians, but not in the case of the Brown Swiss or Simmentals. The additive genetic correlations between fertility traits in the low and high dMEO herds were always lower than 1 [0.329 (−0.17 to 0.85) to 0.934 (0.86 to 0.99)] for all traits considered in all breeds. The correlation was particularly low for the threshold characters and the interval from first service to conception in Holstein-Friesian, suggesting that the relative performances of genotypes vary significantly between herds of different dMEO levels. Although there was large variability in the estimates, results might support making separate genetic evaluations of fertility in the different herd production groups. Our results also indicate that Simmental, a dual-purpose breed, has higher fertility and lower environmental sensitivity than Holstein-Friesian, with Brown Swiss being intermediate.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3358198
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