Genetic variation of metabolite and hormone concentration in UK Holstein-Friesian calves and the genetic relationship with economically important traits

C Hayhurst, A P F Flint, P Løvendahl, J A Woolliams, M D Royal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The decline of dairy cattle fertility worldwide remains a major concern, with conception rates to first service commonly below 40%. The length and severity of negative energy balance postpartum are unfavorably correlated with fertility, suggesting that the length and severity of negative energy balance and fertility are linked via several hormones or metabolites. These compounds therefore have the potential to predict fertility at a genetic level. The addition of a predictor trait for fertility into present fertility indices would accelerate genetic gain, particularly if it was expressed before adulthood. The objective of this work was to estimate the genetic variation in several metabolites and hormones in calves, and to determine their genetic relationships with fertility and production through sire predicted transmitting abilities (PTA; sires of calves sampled). Circulating concentrations of free fatty acids (FFA), glucose, growth hormone (GH), insulin, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in male and female UK Holstein-Friesian dairy calves (average age +/- SD; 126 +/- 12.7 d) were analyzed during 2 studies: data set 1 (n = 496 females; 1996-2001; 7 commercial dairy herds) and data set 2 (n = 326 females, n = 256 males; 2002-2006; multiple ovulation and embryo transfer breeding scheme). Univariate mixed models were fitted to the data using ASREML. Basal concentrations of FFA, glucose, GH, insulin and total IGF-1 were all moderately heritable in both sexes (heritability range +/- SE; 0.09 +/- 0.05 to 0.66 +/- 0.14). The sire PTA for protein percentage had significant regression coefficients and approximate genetic correlations with FFA and insulin, and the sire PTA for calving interval had significant regression coefficients and approximate genetic correlations with GH. Additive genetic variance seems responsible for a moderate proportion of the phenotypic variation in important metabolites and regulatory hormones in male and female UK Holstein-Friesian dairy calves, therefore supporting further investigation into their use as juvenile predictors for fertility in the mature female.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4001-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume92
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cattle
  • Dairying
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Growth Hormone
  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Male

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