Genetic relationship between type traits, number of lactations initiated, and lifetime milk performance in Czech Fleckvieh cattle
Genetic relationship was analyzed between type traits and longevity measures in dual-purpose cattle. Data from 91 486 Czech Fleckvieh cows first calved between 2003 and 2009 were used. Longevity was defined as the actual number of lactations initiated per cow and also as functional longevity, which incorporated an adjustment to account for variation in voluntary culling based upon milk production. Lifetime performance was defined as cumulative milk production through the 6th parity. All cows were scored for conformation traits during their first lactation. Genetic correlations between these traits and longevity measures were estimated by bivariate analysis using the DMU variance component program package. Type trait heritabilities ranged from 0.30 to 0.59, while heritabilities for longevity and functional longevity were 0.06 and 0.05, respectively. Heritability of lifetime performance was 0.08. Genetic correlations between type traits and longevity measures ranged from low to intermediate values. Genetic correlations of the measured body size traits to the real and functional longevity ranged from –0.06 to –0.29, for udder traits from –0.02 to 0.33, and for foot and leg traits from –0.03 to 0.17. Genetic correlations between the measured body size traits and lifetime performance ranged from –0.03 to –0.30, for udder traits from 0.05 to 0.47, for foot and leg traits from –0.07 to 0.15. Genetic correlations of composite trait scores for frame, muscularity, feet and legs, and udder with longevity traits ranged from –0.20 to 0.41 and for lifetime performance –0.14 to 0.51. The highest genetic correlations between a type trait and functional longevity were for composite udder score (0.25), feet and legs (0.26), and udder depth (0.33), suggesting that these traits could serve as indicators of functional longevity. We conclude that selection based upon easily and inexpensively measured type traits could improve functional longevity of cows as well as lifetime milk production.
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