Genetics and genomics of fertility in dairy cows

R.F. Veerkamp, A.M.M. Tenghe, L.M.T.E. Lansbergen, A.C. Bouman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The existence of significant and sufficient genetic variation in fertility is generally accepted and most leading dairy cattle breeding programmes have included fertility in their selection indices (Miglior and others 2005). This multi-trait selection has been very effective and reversed the negative genetic trend for fertility. Selection is based on traits derived from calving dates and insemination dates. These traits are biased by farm management decisions, whereas endocrine fertility phenotypes reflect a cow's physiology directly and are thus better than fertility traits for animal breeding. Genomic selection (Meuwissen and others 2001) predicts breeding values for a large number of genetic markers across the entire genome. Genomic selection will improve the rate of progress for the fertility traits. Current developments include the use of whole genome sequence information, with the prospect of using the causal mutations for selection, and the use of in-line progesterone measures to develop better fertility traits. For the future this holds the promise that farmers should spend less money, treatments and labour to achieve optimal fertility for their herd, since the genetic potential for fertility will improve due to more effective selection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-102
JournalCattle practice: The Journal of the British Cattle Veterinary Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

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