Genetic parameters for milk coagulation properties in Estonian Holstein cows.

M. Vallas, H. Bovenhuis, T. Kaart, K. Parna, H. Kiiman

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The objective of this study was to estimate heritabilities and repeatabilities for milk coagulation traits [milk coagulation time (RCT) and curd firmness (E30)] and genetic and phenotypic correlations between milk yield and composition traits (milk fat percentage and protein percentage, urea, somatic cell count, pH) in first-lactation Estonian Holstein dairy cattle. A total of 17,577 test-day records from 4,191 Estonian Holstein cows in 73 herds across the country were collected during routine milk recordings. Measurements of RCT and E30 determined with the Optigraph (Ysebaert, Frepillon, France) are based on an optical signal in the near-infrared region. The cows had at least 3 measurements taken during the period from April 2005 to January 2009. Data were analyzed using a repeatability animal model. There was substantial variation in milk coagulation traits with a coefficient of variation of 27% for E30 and 9% for the log-transformed RCT. The percentage of variation explained by herd was 3% for E30 and 4% for RCT, suggesting that milk coagulation traits are not strongly affected by herd conditions (e.g., feeding). Heritability was 0.28 for RCT and 0.41 for E30, and repeatability estimates were 0.45 and 0.50, respectively. Genetic correlation between both milk coagulation traits was negligible, suggesting that RCT and E30 have genetically different foundations. Milk coagulation time had a moderately high positive genetic (0.69) and phenotypic (0.61) correlation with milk pH indicating that a high pH is related to a less favorable RCT. Curd firmness had a moderate positive genetic (0.48) and phenotypic (0.45) correlation with the protein percentage. Therefore, a high protein percentage is associated with favorable curd firmness. All reported genetic parameters were statistically significantly different from zero. Additional univariate random regression analysis for milk coagulation traits yielded slightly higher average heritabilities of 0.38 and 0.47 for RCT and E30 compared with the heritabilities of the repeatability model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3789-3796
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • cheese-making properties
  • finnish ayrshire cows
  • somatic-cell count
  • bovine-milk
  • chemical-composition
  • renneting properties
  • production traits
  • dairy-cows
  • physicochemical properties
  • protein-composition

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