Genetic evaluation for bovine tuberculosis resistance in dairy cattle

Georgios Banos, Marco Winters, R. Mrode, Andrew Mitchell, Stephen Bishop, John Woolliams, Mike Coffey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic evaluations for resistance to bovine tuberculosis (bTB) were calculated based on British national data including individual animal tuberculin skin test results, post-mortem examination (presence of bTB lesions and bacteriological culture for Mycobacterium bovis), animal movement and location information, production history and pedigree records. Holstein cows with identified sires in herds with bTB breakdowns (new herd incidents) occurring between the years 2000 and 2014 were considered. In the first instance, cows with a positive reaction to the skin test and a positive post-mortem examination were defined as infected. Values of zero and one were assigned to healthy and infected animal records, respectively. Data was analyzed with mixed models. Linear and logit function heritability estimates were 0.092 and 0.172, respectively. In subsequent analyses, breakdowns were split into two-month intervals to better model time of exposure and infection in the contemporary group. Intervals with at least one infected individual were retained and multiple intervals within the same breakdown were included. Healthy animal records were assigned values of zero, and infected records a value of one in the interval of infection and values reflecting a diminishing probability of infection in the preceding intervals. Heritability and repeatability estimates were 0.115 and 0.699, respectively. Reliabilities and across time stability of the genetic evaluation were improved with the interval model. Subsequently, two more definitions of “infected” were analyzed with the interval model: (i) all positive skin test reactors regardless of post-mortem examination; (ii) all positive skin test reactors plus non-reactors with positive post-mortem examination. Estimated heritability was 0.085 and 0.089, respectively; corresponding repeatability estimates were 0.701 and 0.697. Genetic evaluation reliabilities and across time stability did not change. Correlations of genetic evaluations for bTB with other traits in the current breeding goal were mostly not different from zero. Correlation with the UK Profitable Lifetime Index was moderate, significant and favorable. Results demonstrated the feasibility of a national genetic evaluation for bTB resistance. Selection for enhanced resistance will have a positive effect on profitability and no antagonistic effects on current breeding goal traits. Official genetic evaluations are now based on the interval model and the last bTB trait definition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1272-1281
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Early online date9 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • genetic evaluation
  • bovine tuberculosis resistance


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic evaluation for bovine tuberculosis resistance in dairy cattle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this