Genetic profile of body energy and blood metabolic traits across lactation in primiparous Holstein cows

G. Oikonomou, G. E. Valergakis, G. Arsenos, N. Roubies, G. Banos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objectives of this study were to characterize the changes of body condition score (BCS), energy content (EC), cumulative effective energy balance (CEEB), and blood serum concentrations of glucose, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA), and nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) across the first lactation of Holstein cows, and to estimate variance components for these traits. Four hundred ninety-seven cows kept on a commercial farm in Greece that had calved during 2005 and 2006 were used. Body condition score, estimated live weight, and blood metabolic traits were recorded weekly for the first 3 mo of lactation and monthly thereafter until the end of lactation. Body condition score and estimated live weight records were used to calculate EC and CEEB throughout the first lactation. Estimates of fixed curves and genetic parameters for each trait, by week of lactation, were obtained with the use of random regression models. The estimated fixed curves were indicative of changes in the metabolic process and energy balance of the cows. Significant genetic variance existed in all studied traits, and was particularly high during the first weeks of lactation (except for the genetic variance of CEEB, which was not significant at the beginning of lactation). Significant heritability estimates for BCS ranged from 0.34 to 0.79, for EC from 0.19 to 0.87, for CEEB from 0.58 to 0.93, for serum glucose from 0.12 to 0.39, for BHBA from 0.08 to 0.40, and for NEFA from 0.08 to 0.35. Genetic correlations between different weeks of lactation were near unity for adjacent weeks and decreased for weeks further apart, becoming practically zero for measurements taken more than 3 to 4 mo apart, especially with regard to blood metabolic traits. Significant heritability estimates were also obtained for BCS recorded before first calving. Results suggest that genetic evaluation and selection of dairy cows for early-lactation body energy and blood metabolic traits is possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2814-2822
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • body energy
  • genetic profile
  • energy balance
  • dairy cow


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