• Genetic parameters of ovarian and uterine reproductive traits in dairy cows

      Carthy, Tara; Ryan, Dan P.; Fitzgerald, A. M.; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; European Commission; 11/S/133 (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2015-04)
      The objective of the study was to estimate genetic parameters of detailed reproductive traits derived from ultrasound examination of the reproductive tract as well as their genetic correlations with traditional reproductive traits. A total of 226,141 calving and insemination records as well as 74,134 ultrasound records from Irish dairy cows were used. Traditional reproductive traits included postpartum interval to first service, conception, and next calving, as well as the interval from first to last service; number of inseminations, pregnancy rate to first service, pregnant within 42 d of the herd breeding season, and submission in the first 21 d of the herd breeding season were also available. Detailed reproductive traits included resumed cyclicity at the time of ultrasound examination, incidence of multiple ovulations, incidence of early postpartum ovulation, heat detection, ovarian cystic structures, embryo loss, and uterine score; the latter was a subjectively assessed on a scale of 1 (little fluid with normal uterine tone) to 4 (large quantity of fluid with a flaccid uterine tone). Variance (and covariance) components were estimated using repeatability animal linear mixed models. Heritability for all reproductive traits were generally low (0.001–0.05), with the exception of traits related to cyclicity postpartum, regardless if defined traditionally (0.07; calving to first service) or from ultrasound examination [resumed cyclicity at the time of examination (0.07) or early postpartum ovulation (0.10)]. The genetic correlations among the detailed reproductive traits were generally favorable. The exception was the genetic correlation (0.29) between resumed cyclicity and uterine score; superior genetic merit for cyclicity postpartum was associated with inferior uterine score. Superior genetic merit for most traditional reproductive traits was associated with superior genetic merit for resumed cyclicity (genetic correlations ranged from −0.59 to −0.36 and from 0.56 to 0.70) and uterine score (genetic correlations ranged from −0.47 to 0.32 and from 0.25 to 0.52). Genetic predisposition to an increased incidence of embryo loss was associated with both an inferior uterine score (0.24) and inferior genetic merit for traditional reproductive traits (genetic correlations ranged from −0.52 to −0.42 and from 0.33 to 0.80). The results from the present study indicate that selection based on traditional reproductive traits, such as calving interval or days open, resulted in improved genetic merit of all the detailed reproductive traits evaluated in this study. Additionally, greater accuracy of selection for calving interval is expected for a relatively small progeny group size when detailed reproductive traits are included in a multitrait genetic evaluation.
    • Genetic relationships between detailed reproductive traits and performance traits in Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle

      Carthy, Tara; Ryan, Dan P.; Fitzgerald, A. M.; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; RSF 11/S/133 (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2015-12-17)
      The objective of the study was to estimate the genetic relationships between detailed reproductive traits derived from ultrasound examination of the reproductive tract and a range of performance traits in Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. The performance traits investigated included calving performance, milk production, somatic cell score (i.e., logarithm transformation of somatic cell count), carcass traits, and body-related linear type traits. Detailed reproductive traits included (1) resumed cyclicity at the time of examination, (2) multiple ovulations, (3) early ovulation, (4) heat detection, (5) ovarian cystic structures, (6) embryo loss, and (7) uterine score, measured on a 1 (little or no fluid with normal tone) to 4 (large quantity of fluid with a flaccid tone) scale, based on the tone of the uterine wall and the quantity of fluid present in the uterus. (Co)variance components were estimated using a repeatability animal linear mixed model. Genetic merit for greater milk, fat, and protein yield was associated with a reduced ability to resume cyclicity postpartum (genetic correlations ranged from −0.25 to −0.15). Higher genetic merit for milk yield was also associated with a greater genetic susceptibility to multiple ovulations. Genetic predisposition to elevated somatic cell score was associated with a decreased likelihood of cyclicity postpartum (genetic correlation of −0.32) and a greater risk of both multiple ovulations (genetic correlation of 0.25) and embryo loss (genetic correlation of 0.32). Greater body condition score was genetically associated with an increased likelihood of resumption of cyclicity postpartum (genetic correlation of 0.52). Genetically heavier, fatter carcasses with better conformation were also associated with an increased likelihood of resumed cyclicity by the time of examination (genetic correlations ranged from 0.24 to 0.41). Genetically heavier carcasses were associated with an inferior uterine score as well as a greater predisposition to embryo loss. Despite the overall antagonistic relationship between reproductive performance and both milk and carcass traits, not all detailed aspects of reproduction performance exhibited an antagonistic relationship.
    • Genomic Regions Associated With Gestation Length Detected Using Whole-Genome Sequence Data Differ Between Dairy and Beef Cattle

      Purfield, Deirdre C.; Evans, Ross D.; Carthy, Tara; Berry, Donagh; European Union; Science Foundation Ireland; 727213; 14/IA/2576; 16/RC/3835 (Frontiers Media SA, 2019-11-05)
      While many association studies exist that have attempted to relate genomic markers to phenotypic performance in cattle, very few have considered gestation length as a phenotype, and of those that did, none used whole genome sequence data from multiple breeds. The objective of the present study was therefore to relate imputed whole genome sequence data to estimated breeding values for gestation length using 22,566 sires (representing 2,262,706 progeny) of multiple breeds [Angus (AA), Charolais (CH), Holstein-Friesian (HF), and Limousin (LM)]. The associations were undertaken within breed using linear mixed models that accounted for genomic relatedness among sires; a separate association analysis was undertaken with all breeds analysed together but with breed included as a fixed effect in the model. Furthermore, the genome was divided into 500 kb segments and whether or not segments harboured a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) with a P ≤ 1 × 10-4 common to different combinations of breeds was determined. Putative quantitative trait loci (QTL) regions associated with gestation length were detected in all breeds; significant associations with gestation length were only detected in the HF population and in the across-breed analysis of all 22,566 sires. Twenty-five SNPs were significantly associated (P ≤ 5 × 10-8) with gestation length in the HF population. Of the 25 significant SNPs, 18 were located within three QTLs on Bos taurus autosome number (BTA) 18, six were in two QTL on BTA19, and one was located within a QTL on BTA7. The strongest association was rs381577268, a downstream variant of ZNF613 located within a QTL spanning from 58.06 to 58.19 Mb on BTA18; it accounted for 1.37% of the genetic variance in gestation length. Overall there were 11 HF animals within the edited dataset that were homozygous for the T allele at rs381577268 and these had a 3.3 day longer (P < 0.0001) estimated breeding value (EBV) for gestation length than the heterozygous animals and a 4.7 day longer (P < 0.0001) EBV for gestation length than the homozygous CC animals. The majority of the 500 kb windows harboring a SNP with a P ≤ 1 × 10-4 were unique to a single breed and no window was shared among all four breeds for gestation length, suggesting any QTLs identified are breed-specific associations.
    • Risk factors associated with detailed reproductive phenotypes in dairy and beef cows

      Carthy, Tara; Berry, Donagh; Fitzgerald, A. M.; McParland, Sinead; Williams, E. J.; Butler, Stephen; Cromie, A. R.; Ryan, Dan P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; et al. (Cambridge University PRess, 2014-04-17)
      The objective of this study was to identify detailed fertility traits in dairy and beef cattle from transrectal ultrasonography records and quantify the associated risk factors. Data were available on 148 947 ultrasound observations of the reproductive tract from 75 949 cows in 843 Irish dairy and beef herds between March 2008 and October 2012. Traits generated included (1) cycling at time of examination, (2) cystic structures, (3) early ovulation, (4) embryo death and (5) uterine score; the latter was measured on a scale of 1 (good) to 4 (poor) characterising the tone of the uterine wall and fluid present in the uterus. After editing, 72 773 records from 44 415 dairy and beef cows in 643 herds remained. Factors associated with the logit of the probability of a positive outcome for each of the binary fertility traits were determined using generalised estimating equations; linear mixed model analysis was used for the analysis of uterine score. The prevalence of cycling, cystic structures, early ovulation and embryo death was 84.75%, 3.87%, 7.47% and 3.84%, respectively. The occurrence of the uterine heath score of 1, 2, 3 and 4 was 70.63%, 19.75%, 8.36% and 1.26%, respectively. Cows in beef herds had a 0.51 odds (95% CI = 0.41 to 0.63, P<0.001) of cycling at the time of examination compared with cows in dairy herds; stage of lactation at the time of examination was the same in both herd types. Furthermore, cows in dairy herds had an inferior uterine score (indicating poorer tone and a greater quantity of uterine fluid present) compared with cows in beef herds. The likelihood of cycling at the time of examination increased with parity and stage of lactation, but was reduced in cows that had experienced dystocia in the previous calving. The presence of cystic structures on the ovaries increased with parity and stage of lactation. The likelihood of embryo/foetal death increased with parity and stage of lactation. Dystocia was not associated with the presence of cystic structures or embryo death. Uterine score improved with parity and stage of lactation, while cows that experienced dystocia in the previous calving had an inferior uterine score. Heterosis was the only factor associated with increased likelihood of early ovulation. The fertility traits identified, and the associated risk factors, provide useful information on the reproductive status of dairy and beef cows.