Short communication: Heritability of methane production and genetic correlations with milk yield and body weight in Holstein-Friesian dairy cows

Irene Breider, Eileen Wall, Phil Garnsworthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Greenhouse gases originating from the dairy sector, including methane (CH4), contribute to global warming. A possible strategy to reduce CH4 production is to use genetic selection. This requires genetic parameters for CH4 production and correlations with production traits. Data were available on 184 Holstein-Friesian cows. Methane production was measured in the milking robot during milking from December 2009 to April 2010. In total 2,456 observations for CH4 production were available. Milk yield (MY) and body weight (BW) were obtained at every milking from November 2008 to October 2010. In total 4,567 observations for milk yield and 4,570 observations for BW were available. Restricted maximum likelihood using random regression models was used to analyze the data. Heritability (SE) for CH4 production ranged from 0.28 (0.14) to 0.45 (0.11) and genetic correlations (SE) with MY ranged from 0.49 (0.12) to 0.54 (0.26). The positive genetic correlation between CH4 production and milk yield indicates care needs to be taken when genetically selecting for lower CH4 production, to avoid a decrease in MY at the animal level. However, this study shows that CH4 production is moderately heritable and therefore progress through genetic selection is possible.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Early online date13 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Keywords

  • methane production
  • heritability
  • climate change
  • genetic correlation

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