Worldwide, classical control strategies based on hygiene and culling of infected animals have been implemented to eradicate Johne's disease. Breeding for disease resistance may be a useful additional tool to control the disease. The aim of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for the presence of a Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis specific antibody response in milk of Dutch Holstein-Friesian cows using subsets of data based on within-herd test prevalence. The analyzed data set consisted of milk samples of 684,364 animals from 12,077 herds collected during the routine milk production scheme. Milk samples were tested for antibodies specific for Johne's disease by an ELISA test. Heritability estimates were calculated for 4 different subsets of data to determine the sensitivity of heritability for within-herd test prevalence. Results expressed as percentage of the sample to positive ratio were analyzed with a sire-maternal grandsire model with fixed effects for parity, year of birth, lactation stage, and herd; a covariate for milk yield at test day; and random effects for sire, maternal grandsire, and error. The estimated heritability ranged from 0.031 for the complete data set to 0.097 for herds with a test prevalence of at least 10%. Cross-validation was applied to determine which of the subsets of data produced the most accurate estimated breeding values. Results showed that for genetic selection to contribute to disease control, breeding values were estimated most accurately from herds with at least 2 animals that tested positive. In this subset the heritability was 0.041.
van Hulzen, K. J. E., Nielen, M., Koets, A. P., de Jong, G., van Arendonk, J. A. M., & Heuven, H. C. M. (2011). Effect of herd prevalence on heritability estimates of antibody response to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis. Journal of Dairy Science, 94(2), 992-997. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2010-3472