Estimation of genetic parameters for fertility traits and the effect of milk production on reproduction performance in South African Holstein cows

Potgieter, Johannes Phillipus (2012-03)

Thesis (MScAgric)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Profitable milk production and genetic improvement in dairy herds are largely dependant on fertile cows capable of calving down on an annual basis. Several studies indicate declines in the reproductive performance of Holstein cows over the last 30 years. Calving interval (CI) and services per conception (SPC) are being used by dairy farmers as indicators of the reproductive performance of dairy cows. However, using these traits as cow fertility indicators is problematic as CI is dependent on subsequent calving dates while SPC is strongly linked to inseminator proficiency. The aim of the study is therefore, firstly, to describe alternative fertility traits derived from insemination and calving dates and pregnancy check results. The effects of some non-genetic factors on these traits are discussed. Means±sd for interval traits from calving to first insemination (CFS) and the interval from calving to conception (DO) were respectively 77±30 and 134±74 days while the number of services per conception (SPC) averaged 2.55±1.79. The percentage of first servics occurring within 80 days post-partum (FS80d) and the proportion of cows being confirmed pregnant within 100 (PD100d) and 200 days post-partum (PD200d) were 0.64±0.48, 0.36±0.48 and 0.71±0.45, respectively. Although fertility traits were affected significantly by lactation number, calving year and month, herds (managers) had the largest effect. Fertility is a complex trait, however, the challenge is finding traits that best describe this trait. Genetic parameters for these traits could give an indication of the response to selection in dairy herds. In the second part of this study, genetic parameters and correlations between fertility traits, sourced from standard reproduction management data bases, are analysed for Holstein cows using bivariate linearlinear and linear-threshold animal models. Insemination events (n = 69 181) from 26 645 lactations of 9 046 Holstein cows from 14 herds, calving down during the period from 1991 to 2007, were available. The outcome of each AI event was known. Insemination records were linked to the calving date of each cow, lactation number as well as dam and sire identification. Fertility traits indicating the ability of cows to show heat early in the breeding period, and to become pregnant, were derived. Data were analysed using bivariate linear-linear and linear-threshold animal models with fixed effects being herd (14 levels), year (17 levels), season (4 levels) and lactation number (6 levels). The model included the random effects of animal and animal permanent environment (PE). Heritability estimates ranged from 0.04±0.01 to 0.10±0.02 for FS80d, from 0.07±0.01 to 0.08±0.02 for PD100d and from 0.06±0.04 to 0.08±0.02 for PD200d depending on the two-trait combination. Although heritability estimates of most fertility traits were below 0.10, they were in close agreement with results published by other researchers using linear models. Genetic correlations between different fertility parameters analyzed in this study indicated that it is unlikely that a single characteristic would serve well for selection purposes; instead, combining different traits could be used in selection programmes to improve fertility. Further research in constructing an optimal fertility index is warranted. In the third part of this study, genetic parameters for South African Holstein cows for fertility and production traits were estimated from 2415 lactation records. Two-trait analysis of fertility and milk yield was investigated as a method to estimate fertility breeding values when culling, or selection based on milk yield in early lactation, determines presence or absence of fertility observations in later lactations. Fertility traits were days from calving to first service (CFS), days from calving to conception (DO), percentage cows inseminated within 80d post-partum (FS80d), number of service per conception (SPC), and the binary traits percentage of cows pregnant within 100d and 200d postpartum (PD100d, Pd200d). Milk production traits were 300 day milk, fat and protein yield. For fertility traits, range of estimates of heritability (h2) was 0.006 to 0.08 for linear traits and 0.05 to 0.12 for binary traits. The range for permanent environmental variance (c2) was 0.016 to 0.032. In this study genetic correlations of fertility with milk production traits were unfavourable ranging between −0.93 to 0.76.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Winsgewende melkproduksie en genetiese verbetering in melkkuddes hang grootliks af van vrugbare koeie wat op ‘n jaarlikse basis kalf. Verskeie studies toon dat die reproduksievermoë van Holsteinkoeie oor die afgelope 30 jaar afgeneem het. Melkboere gebruik tussenkalfperiode (TKP) en aantal inseminasies per konsepsie (KIPK) as aanduidings van die reproduksievermoë van melkkoeie. Dit is egter moeilik om hierdie eienskappe as vrugbaarheidseienskappe vir melkkoeie te gebruik omdat TKP afhanklik is van opeenvolgende kalfdatums terwyl KIPK baie sterk gekoppel is aan die inseminasievermoë van die insemineerders. In die eerste gedeelte van die studie word alternatiewe vrugbaarheidseienskappe, wat afgelei is van inseminasie- en kalfdatums en die uitslag van dragtigheidsondersoeke, beskryf. Die invloed van ‘n aantal nie-genetiese faktore op dié eienskappe word ook bespreek. Gemiddeldes±standaard afwykings vir die periode vanaf kalwing tot eerste inseminasie (CFS), die periode van kalwing tot konsepsie (DO) was 77±30 en 134±74 dae onderskeidelik, terwyl die aantal inseminasies per konsepsie (SPC) 2.55±1.79 was. Die persentasie eerste inseminasies wat binne 80 dae na kalwing (FS80d), en die persentasie koeie wat dragtig bevestig is binne 100 (PD100d) en 200 dae na kalwing (PD200d) was 0.64±0.48, 0.36±0.48 en 0.71±0.45, onderskeidelik. Hoewel vrugbaarheidseienskappe betekenisvol beïnvloed is deur laktasienommer, jaar en seisoen van kalwing, het kuddes (bestuurders) die grootste effek op eienskappe gehad. Vrugbaarheid is ‘n ingewikkelde eienskap en die uitdaging is om eienskappe te vind wat dit die beste beskryf. Genetiese parameters vir eienskappe wat oorweeg word sal ‘n aanduiding gee van die seleksieresponse in melkkuddes. In die tweede gedeelte van die studie is genetiese parameters van vrugbaarheidseienskappe en korrelasies tussen dié eienskappe beraam. Eienskappe is bekom vanaf reproduksiebestuursprogramme wat in melkkuddes gebruik word. Al die inseminasierekords (n = 69 181) van 26 645 laktasies van 9 046 Holsteinkoeie van 14 melkkuddes wat tussen 1991 en 2007 gekalf het, was beskikbaar. Die uitslag van elke inseminasie was bekend. Inseminasierekords is met die kalfdatum, laktasienommer, identifkasienommers van die moeder en vader van elke koei, gekoppel. Vrugbaarheidseienskappe wat die vermoë van koeie aandui om vroeg na kalwing op hitte te kom en beset te raak, is verkry. Die data is ontleed deur gebruik te maak van twee-eienskap liniêreliniêr- en liniêr-drempel-diere modelle met vaste effekte kudde (14 vlakke), jaar (17 vlakke), siesoen (4 vlakke) en laktasienommer (6 vlakke). Die modelle het die ewekansige effekte van dier- en dierpermananente omgewingseffkte (PE) ingesluit. Genetiese, diere PE en residuele korrelasies is vervolgens beraam. Oorerflikhede varieer vanaf 0.04±0.01 tot 0.10±0.02 vir FS80d, vanaf 0.07±0.01 tot 0.08±0.02 vir PD100d en vanaf 0.06±0.04 tot 0.08±0.02 vir PD200d, afhangende van die tweeeienskap kombinasie. Ten spyte daarvan dat die oorerflikhede van die meeste vrugbaarseienskappe laer as 0.10 is, is die resultate in ooreenstemming met ander navorsers wat liniëre modelle gebruik het. Genetiese korrelasies tussen verskillende vrugbaarheidseienskappe toon dat daar nie enkel beste eienskap is wat vir seleksiedoeleindes gebruik kan word nie. Dit sou waarskynlik beter wees om verskillende eienskappe te kombineer om die vrugbaarheid in melkkoeie te verbeter. Verdere navorsing is nodig om ‘n optimale vrugbaarheidseienskap te ontwikkel. Dit is belangrik dat die verband tussen reproduksie en melkproduksie vir melkkoeie bepaal word. In die derde gedeelte van die studie is genetiese parameters vir vrugbaarheid- en melkproduksieeienskappe vir Suid Afrikaanse Holsteinkoeie beraam. ‘n Totaal van 2415 laktasierekords was beskikbaar. Vrugbaarheid en melkproduksie is volgens ‘n twee-eienskap analise ontleed as ‘n metode om teelwaardes vir vrugbaarheid te bepaal in gevalle waar die uitskot of seleksie gebaseer op melkproduksie in vroeglaktasie die teenwoordigheid of afwesigheid van vrugbaarheidseienskappe in latere laktasies bepaal. Vrugbaarheidseienskappe was die periode (aantal dae) tussen kalfdatum en eerste inseminasie (CFS), die aantal dae van kalf tot konsepsie (DO), die persentasie koeie wat by 80 dae na kalf vir die eerste keer geïnsemineer was (FS80d), die aantal inseminasies per konsepsie (SPC), en binêre eienskappe van die persentasie koeie wat by 100 dae en 200 dae na kalf beset was (PD100d en PD200d). Melkproduksie-eienskappe was 300-dae melk., vet- en proteïnproduksie. Vir vrugbaarheidseienskappe het die oorerflikheidswaardes (h2) vanaf 0.006 tot 0.08 vir liniêre eienskappe gevarieer en tussen 0.05 tot 0.12 vir binêre eienskappe. Die permanente omgewingsvariansie (c2) het tussen 0.016 tot 0.032 gevarieer. In hierdie studie was die genetiese korrelasies tussen vrugbaarheidseienskappe en melkproduksie-eienskappe ongunstig en het dit tussen −0.93 tot 0.76 gevarieer.

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