Genetic correlation between days until start of luteal activity and milk yield, energy balance, and live weights

R.F. Veerkamp, J.K. Oldenbroek, H.J. van der Gaast, J.H.J. van der Werf

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    The objective of this study was to estimate genetic correlations among fertility and measures of energy balance, dry matter intake, and live weight (change). Data from 622 first lactation cows (fed ad libitum a complete ration) included milk, fat, and protein yields; energy balance; and live weights for the first 15 wk of lactation. For a subset of the heifers (n = 329) and 91 contemporaries, progesterone values were measured in the milk twice a week and were used to determine the interval between calving and first luteal activity (CLA). To obtain correlations, a series of bivariate animal model analyses was performed. The heritabilities for CLA and energy balance were 0.16 and 0.33, respectively. Heritability for live weights were 0.48 to 0.61 and for live weight changes were 0.17 and 0.24. Genetic correlations of CLA with milk, fat, and protein yields were high and unfavorable (0.51, 0.65, and 0.48, respectively), whereas energy balance, live weight during lactation, and weight gain all had a favorable genetic correlation with CLA (range -0.40 to -0.80). When genetic variation in CLA was adjusted genetically for milk, fat, and protein yields, the correlation with feed intake became -0.49 and explained approximately half of the genetic variance in CLA. This supports that increasing genetic merit for feed intake, at a common genetic merit for yield, improved CLA. Furthermore, selection on an index including protein yield and energy balance or live weight (change) allowed 0.71 to 0.80 of the maximum response in protein yield without a negative selection effect on CLA.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)577-583
    JournalJournal of Dairy Science
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


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