Genetic parameters derived from using a biological model of lactation on records of commercial dairy cows

Albarran-Portillo, B and Pollott, G E (2008) Genetic parameters derived from using a biological model of lactation on records of commercial dairy cows. JOURNAL OF DAIRY SCIENCE, 91 (9). pp. 3639-3648.

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Abstract

The object of this study was to investigate the genetics of lactation curve parameters derived from a biological model of lactation and the relationships among them. This biological model fitted 2 logistic curves to mimic the initial increase in milk secretory cell numbers in early lactation and the progression of apoptosis in late lactation. Records from 82,255 Holstein-Friesian heifers from commercial dairy herds in the United Kingdom, recorded from 1994 to 2003, were analyzed. The heritabilities of 2 lactation curve parameters, maximum secretion potential and relative cell death rate, were 0.27 and 0.08 respectively. Maximum secretion potential was highly genetically correlated with peak yield (0.99), and relative cell death rate was highly correlated with persistency of lactation (0.84). Heritability values for the traits analyzed showed a characteristic pattern. Total milk yield traits, maximum secretion potential, and peak yield had similar and moderate heritabilities (similar to 0.3). Traits associated with late lactation had lower heritability values (similar to 0.1), whereas day of peak yield and early lactation traits had little genetic variation. The permanent environmental variance of the various traits ranged from 0.08 to 0.26 of the phenotypic variance. Parameters from the 2 logistic curves were not highly correlated, suggesting that selection programs could be devised to exploit genetic variation in both aspects of lactation independently.