Prediction of genetic merit for live weight and body condition score in dairy cows using routinely available linear type and carcass data
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CitationD.P. Berry, R.D. Evans, M.M. Kelleher, Prediction of genetic merit for live weight and body condition score in dairy cows using routinely available linear type and carcass data, Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 104, Issue 6, 2021, Pages 6885-6896, ISSN 0022-0302, https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2021-20154.
AbstractAccurate estimates of genetic merit for both live weight and body condition score (BCS) could be useful additions to both national- and herd-breeding programs. Although recording live weight and BCS is not technologically arduous, data available for use in routine genetic evaluations are generally lacking. The objective of the present study was to explore the usefulness of routinely recorded data, namely linear type traits (which also included BCS but only assessed visually) and carcass traits in the pursuit of genetic evaluations for both live weight and BCS in dairy cows. The data consisted of on-farm records of live weight and BCS (assessed using both visual and tactile cues) from 33,242 dairy cows in 201 commercial Irish herds. These data were complemented with information on 6 body-related linear type traits (i.e., stature, angularity, chest width, body depth, BCS, and rump width) and 3 cull cow carcass measures (i.e., carcass weight, conformation, and fat cover) on a selection of these animals plus close relatives. (Co)variance components were estimated using animal linear mixed models. The genetic correlation between the type traits stature, angularity, body depth, chest width, rump width, and visually-assessed BCS with live weight was 0.68, −0.28, 0.43, 0.64, 0.61, and 0.44, respectively. The genetic correlation between angularity and BCS measured on farm (based on both visual and tactile appraisal) was −0.79; the genetic and phenotypic correlation between BCS assessed visually as part of the linear assessment with BCS assessed by producers using both tactile and visual cues was 0.90 and 0.27, respectively. The genetic (phenotypic) correlation between cull cow carcass weight and live weight was 0.81 (0.21), and the genetic (phenotypic) correlation between cull cow carcass fat cover and BCS assessed on live cows was 0.44 (0.12). Estimated breeding values (EBV) for live weight and BCS in a validation population of cows were generated using a multitrait evaluation with observations for just the type traits, just the carcass traits, and both the type traits and carcass traits; the EBV were compared with the respective live weight and BCS phenotypic observations. The regression of phenotypic live weight on its EBV from the multitrait evaluations was 1.00 (i.e., the expectation) when the EBV was generated using just linear type trait data, but less than 1 (0.83) when using just carcass data. However, the regression changed across parities and stages of lactation. The partial correlation (after adjusting for contemporary group, parity by stage of lactation, heterosis, and recombination loss) between phenotypic live weight and EBV for live weight estimated using the 3 different scenarios (i.e., type only, carcass only, type plus carcass) ranged from 0.38 to 0.43. Although the prediction of phenotypic BCS from its respective EBV was relatively good when using just the linear type trait data (regression coefficient of 0.83 with a partial correlation of 0.22), the predictive ability of BCS EBV based on just carcass data was poor and should not be used. Overall, linear type trait data are a useful source of information to predict live weight and BCS with minimal additional predictive value from also including carcass data. Nonetheless, in the absence of linear type trait data, information on carcass traits can be useful in predicting genetic merit for mature cow live weight. Prediction of cow BCS from cow carcass data is not recommended.
FunderDepartment of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland
Grant Number17/S/235; 16/RC/3835 (VistaMilk)
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2021 American Dairy Science Association®.