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Sahiwal cattle in Pakistan: genetic and environmental causes of variation in body weight and reproduction and their relationship to milk production



Sahiwal cattle in Pakistan: genetic and environmental causes of variation in body weight and reproduction and their relationship to milk production



Animal Science 68(1): 97-108



The influence of genetic and environmental factors on body weight and reproduction and their relationship to milk production traits, were studied in data of about 4700 Sahiwal cows from Pakistan. (Co)variance components were estimated using restricted maximum likelihood (REML) procedure based on the expectation maximization algorithm applying an animal model. Mean weights of females were: at birth, 21.6 kg; at 1 year, 130 kg; and at 2 years, 222 kg. Records of age at calving, cow weight post partum and calving interval were studied in the first three parities, with parities considered as different traits. For primiparous cows the average values of these traits were: 44.1 months, 319 kg and 465 days, respectively. Mean stillbirth rate was 5.3%. Heritabilities ranged for body weight traits from 0.08 to 0.21, for age at calving from 0.10 to 0.13 and for calving interval from 0.03 to 0.07. Genetic correlations of age at first calving with calving interval and 305-day milk yield were low. The genetic correlation between 305-day milk yield and calving interval was positive (unfavourable) in first parity (0.68) but negative in the third (-0.47). Cows with a high genetic value for 305-day milk yield were heavier at first calving than were low-yielding cows (r(g) 0.57). The genetic change in reproductive traits over the period studied was close to zero, whereas a marked deterioration was found in phenotypic performance. It is concluded that improved feeding and management, along with some selection against poor reproduction in cows, are important for improvement of reproductive performance.

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