Genetic Parameters for Major Milk Fatty Acids and Milk Production Traits of Dutch Holstein-Friesians

W.M. Stoop, J.A.M. van Arendonk, J.M.L. Heck, H.J.F. van Valenberg, H. Bovenhuis

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The objective of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for major milk fatty acids and milk production traits. One morning milk sample was collected from 1,918 Holstein-Friesian heifers located in 398 commercial herds in the Netherlands. Each sample was analyzed for total percentages of fat and protein, and for detailed fatty acid percentages (computed as fatty acid weight as a proportion of total fat weight). Intraherd heritabilities were high for C4:0 to C16:0, ranging from 0.42 for C4:0 to 0.71 for C10:0. Saturated and unsaturated C18 fatty acids had intraherd heritability estimates of approximately 0.25, except for C18:2 cis-9, trans-11, which was 0.42. Standard errors of the heritabilities were between 0.07 and 0.12. Genetic correlations were high and positive among C4:0 to C14:0, as well as among unsaturated C18, but correlations of C4:0 to C14:0 with unsaturated C18 were generally weak. The genetic correlation of C16:0 with fat percentage was positive (0.65), implying that selection for fat percentage should result in a correlated increase of C16:0, whereas unsaturated C18 fatty acids decreased with increasing fat percentage (¿0.74). Milk fat composition can be changed by means of selective breeding, which offers opportunities to meet consumer demands regarding health and technological aspects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-394
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • bovine-milk
  • cow milk
  • associations
  • lipids

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