Genetic Relationship of Body Energy and Blood Metabolites with Reproduction in Holstein Cows

G. Oikonomou*, G. Arsenos, G. E. Valergakis, A. Tsiaras, D. Zygoyiannis, G. Banos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

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) were measured throughout first lactation in 497 Holstein cows raised on a large commercial farm in northern Greece. All these traits are considered to be indicators of a cow's energy balance. An additional measure of BCS, EC, and blood serum glucose, BHBA, and NEFA concentrations were taken approximately 2 mo (61 +/- 23 d) before first calving. During first lactation, first service conception rate, conception rate in the first 305 d of lactation, interval from calving to conception, number of inseminations per conception, incidence of metritis, and incidence of reproductive problems of these cows were recorded; interval between first and second calving, and second lactation first service conception rate were also recorded. Random regression models were used to calculate weekly animal breeding values for first lactation BCS, EC, CEEB, glucose, BHBA, and NEFA. Single trait animal models were used to calculate breeding values for these traits measured on pregnant heifers before calving. Reproductive records were then regressed on animal breeding values for these energy balance-related traits to derive estimates of their genetic correlations. Several significant estimates were obtained. In general, traits that are known to be positively correlated with energy balance (BCS, EC, CEEB, and glucose) were found to have a favorable genetic relationship with reproduction, meaning that increased levels of the former will lead to an enhancement of the latter. On the other hand, traits known to be negatively correlated with energy balance (BHBA and NEFA) were found to have an unfavorable genetic association with reproductive traits. Body condition score, BHBA, and NEFA recorded early in lactation, and glucose concentrations measured in pregnant heifers had the highest genetic correlation with future reproductive performance. Results suggest that genetic selection for body energy and blood metabolites could facilitate the genetic improvement of fertility and overall reproductive efficiency of dairy cows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4323-4332
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • genetic correlation
  • metabolite
  • reproduction
  • energy balance


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