Estimating genetic parameters for fertility in dairy cows from in-line milk progesterone profiles

A.M.M. Tenghe, A.C. Bouwman, B. Berglund, E. Strandberg, J. Blom, R.F. Veerkamp

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to define endocrine fertility traits from in-line milk progesterone (P4) records and to estimate genetic parameters for these traits. Correlations of classical fertility (calving interval and calving to first service) and milk production traits with endocrine fertility traits were also estimated. In-line milk P4 records (n = 160,952) collected from June 2009 through November 2013 for 2,273 lactations of 1,561 Holstein-Friesian cows in 12 commercial herds in the Netherlands were analyzed for (the log of) the number of days from calving till commencement of luteal activity (lnC-LA), proportion of samples between 25 and 60 d in milk with luteal activity (PLA), presence or absence of luteal activity for a cow between 25 and 60 d in milk, interval from commencement of luteal activity to first service (CLAFS), first luteal phase length, length of first interluteal interval, and length of first interovulatory interval. Milk P4 records were sampled, on average, every 2 d. Genetic parameters were estimated using a mixed linear animal model. Heritability estimates (±SE) of endocrine fertility traits were 0.12 ± 0.05 for lnC-LA, 0.12 ± 0.05 for PLA, and 0.11 ± 0.06 for CLAFS, and their repeatability estimates were 0.29 ± 0.04, 0.21 ± 0.04, and 0.15 ± 0.06, respectively. The genetic correlation of lnC-LA with PLA was -0.91 ± 0.06 and with CLAFS was -0.56 ± 0.25. The genetic correlations of lnC-LA were 0.26 ± 0.33 with calving interval and 0.37 ± 0.21 with calving to first service. Genetic correlations of the milk production traits with lnC-LA ranged from 0.04 to 0.18 and 0.07 to 0.65 with classical fertility traits. The phenotypic correlations of all endocrine fertility traits with milk production traits were close to zero (0.01 to 0.07). This study shows that in-line P4 records can be used to define and explore several heritable endocrine fertility traits in dairy cows and might help in selection for improved fertility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5763-5773
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • experimental research herds
  • body condition score
  • luteal activity
  • postpartum ovulation
  • cattle
  • holstein
  • traits
  • interval
  • yield
  • endocrine

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