Our aim was to estimate genetic parameters of atypical reproductive patterns and estimate their genetic correlation with milk production and classical fertility traits for commercial dairy cows. In contrast with classical fertility traits, atypical reproductive patterns based on in-line milk progesterone profiles might have higher heritability and lower genetic correlation with milk production. We had in-line milk progesterone profiles available for 12,046 cycles in 4,170 lactations of 2,589 primiparous and multiparous cows (mainly Holstein Friesian) from 14 herds. Based on progesterone profiles, 5 types of atypical reproductive patterns in a lactation were defined: delayed ovulation types I and II, persistent corpus luteum types I and II, and late embryo mortality. These atypical patterns were detected in 14% (persistent corpus luteum type II) to 21% (persistent corpus luteum type I) of lactations. In 47% of lactations, at least 1 atypical pattern was detected. Threshold model heritabilities for atypical reproduction patterns ranged between 0.03 and 0.14 and for most traits were slightly higher compared with classical fertility traits. The genetic correlation between milk yield and calving interval was 0.56, whereas genetic correlations between milk yield and atypical reproductive patterns ranged between −0.02 and 0.33. Although most of these correlations between milk yield and atypical reproductive patterns are still unfavorable, they are lower compared with the correlations between classical fertility traits and milk yield. Therefore selection against atypical reproductive patterns may relax some constraints in current dairy breeding programs, to enhance genetic progress in both fertility and milk yield at a steady pace. However, as long as the target trait for fertility is calving interval, atypical reproductive patterns will not add additional value to the breeding goal in the near future due to the low number of available records.
- genetic correlation