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Genetic and phenotypic correlations among feed efficiency, production and selected conformation traits in dairy cows



Genetic and phenotypic correlations among feed efficiency, production and selected conformation traits in dairy cows



Animal 10(3): 381-389



The difficulties and costs of measuring individual feed intake in dairy cattle are the primary factors limiting the genetic study of feed intake and utilisation, and hence the potential of their subsequent industry-wide applications. However, indirect selection based on heritable, easily measurable, and genetically correlated traits, such as conformation traits, may be an alternative approach to improve feed efficiency. The aim of this study was to estimate genetic and phenotypic correlations among feed intake, production, and feed efficiency traits (particularly residual feed intake; RFI) with routinely recorded conformation traits. A total of 496 repeated records from 260 Holstein dairy cows in different lactations (260, 159 and 77 from first, second and third lactation, respectively) were considered in this study. Individual daily feed intake and monthly BW and body condition scores of these animals were recorded from 5 to 305 days in milk within each lactation from June 2007 to July 2013. Milk yield and composition data of all animals within each lactation were retrieved, and the first lactation conformation traits for primiparous animals were extracted from databases. Individual RFI over 301 days was estimated using linear regression of total 301 days actual energy intake on a total of 301 days estimated traits of metabolic BW, milk production energy requirement, and empty BW change. Pair-wise bivariate animal models were used to estimate genetic and phenotypic parameters among the studied traits. Estimated heritabilities of total intake and production traits ranged from 0.27±0.07 for lactation actual energy intake to 0.45±0.08 for average body condition score over 301 days of the lactation period. RFI showed a moderate heritability estimate (0.20±0.03) and non-significant phenotypic and genetic correlations with lactation 3.5 % fat-corrected milk and average BW over lactation. Among the conformation traits, dairy strength, stature, rear attachment width, chest width and pin width had significant (P<0.05) moderate to strong genetic correlations with RFI. Combinations of these conformation traits could be used as RFI indicators in the dairy genetic improvement programmes to increase the accuracy of the genetic evaluation of feed intake and utilisation included in the index.

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Accession: 057929207

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26549643

DOI: 10.1017/S1751731115002281



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