Test-day records of somatic cell counts (SCC) can be used to define alternative traits to decrease genetic susceptibility to clinical mastitis (CM) and subclinical mastitis (SCM). This paper examines which combination of alternative SCC traits can be used best to reduce both CM and SCM and whether direct information on CM is useful in this respect. Genetic correlations between 10 SCC traits and CM and SCM were estimated from 3 independent data sets. The SCC traits with the strongest correlations with CM differed from those with the strongest correlations with SCM. Selection index calculations were made for a breeding goal of 50% CM and 50% SCM resistance using these correlations. They indicated that a combination of 5 SCC traits (SCC early and late in lactation, suspicion of infection based on increased SCC, extent of increased SCC, and presence of a peak pattern in SCC) gave a high accuracy, almost without loss, compared with the full set of 10 SCC traits. The estimated accuracy of this index was 0.91, assuming that the correlations had been estimated without error. To take errors in estimation into account, correlations were resampled from a normal distribution with mean and standard errors as originally estimated. The accuracy of the index calculated with the original correlations was then recalculated using the resampled correlations. The average accuracy based on 50,000 resamplings decreased to 0.81. Use of direct information on CM improved the accuracy (uncorrected for errors in correlations) only slightly, to 0.92.
- 1st 3 lactations
- clinical mastitis