Genetic evaluation of fertility using direct and correlated traits

E. Wall, S. Brotherstone, John Woolliams, Georgios Banos, M.P. Coffey

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Poor fertility has become a major reason for involuntary culling of dairy cows in the United Kingdom. Calving interval (CI) and body condition score (BCS) are recorded, heritable, genetically correlated with each other, and could be used to extend the scope of dairy indices to include fertility traits. The use of U. K. insemination information for the evaluation of fertility has not been examined previously. Fertility and correlated traits were examined using nationally recorded milk (MILK = daily milk yield at test nearest d 110), BSC, and fertility traits (CI and the insemination traits of nonreturn rate after 56 d, NR56; days to first service, DFS; and number of inseminations per conception, INS). Genetic parameters for the traits were estimated simultaneously with a multitrait sire maternal grand-sire (MGS) model and a multitrait BLUP sire MGS model was used to predict sire predicted transmitting abilities for each trait. The relationship between the fertility traits and other predicted transmitting abilities calculated in the United Kingdom was then examined. Heritabilities for the fertility traits were CI = 0.033 +/- 0.01, DFS = 0.037 +/- 0.01, NR56 = 0.018 +/- 0.001, and INS = 0.020 +/- 0.001, with a genetic correlation of 0.671 +/- 0.063 between CI and DFS and -0.939 +/- 0.031 between NR56 and INS. There was an unfavorable genetic correlation between the fertility traits and milk yield and BCS. Predicted transmitting abilities produced are similar in size and range to those produced in other studies and genetic trends are as expected. Results to date are encouraging and suggest that the planned program of work will lead to a fertility index that, when used by breeding companies, will lead to improvements in national dairy cow fertility.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)4093-4102
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • calving interval fertility insemination information body condition score dairy-cattle milk-production random regression energy-balance environmental correlations calving interval parameters cows yield

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