Health traits in current dairy cattle breeding: A review

Zavadilová L., Kašná E., Krupová Z., Klímová A. (2021): Health traits in current dairy cattle breeding: A review. Czech J. Anim. Sci.,66:235-250.

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The review focuses on breeding practices aimed at improving resistance to diseases and health disorders that are associated with better efficiency, welfare and longevity of cows. It is commonly known that diseases like mastitis, foot and claw disorders, metabolic and reproductive issues seriously violate dairy cows’ well-being. The cause of prevailing health and fertility deterioration has been the intensive selection merely based on higher milk production starting after the Second World War. Therefore since the last decades of the 20th-century genetic selection programs have been increasingly focused on increasing resistance to diseases and improving fertility traits using several omics techniques, including genomics. The first steps for maintaining the goal of genetic breeding for disease resistance were the introduction of disease data collection at national levels followed by an elaboration of gene evaluation systems. It was proved that diseases exhibit additive genetic variability exploitable in the breeding. For greater breeding efficiency, the indicator traits are used, which were strongly genetically correlated with health traits, have higher heritability, and above all, are usually easily measurable at low cost. Genome-wide association studies have identified several polymorphisms associated with disease liability that could also be used for speeding up selection efforts. Keywords: cow; clinical mastitis; foot and claw disease; metabolic disease; genomics.

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