Impact of areas and sire by herd interaction on heritability estimates for somatic cell count in Italian Holstein Friesian cows

A.B. Samoré, J.A.M. van Arendonk, A.F. Groen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the paper was to estimate variance components for somatic cell scores for Italian Holsteins using data from three different areas of the country. A total of 2,202,804 first-parity test-day records, collected from 1990 to 1997 in three areas of Italy (Mantova, Milano, and Parmigiano cheese area), were available for study. The areas differ in herd size, feeding systems and especially in milk use. A minimum standard of quality is also required by some specific methods of cheese production, as for example from the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese chain. These reasons, taken together, affect the attention given to the quality of milk production in herds, and, therefore, to the sanitation levels. A pedigree file was extracted from the national database of Holstein Friesian breed. For computational reasons, eight samples of the data were extracted per area. Variance components were estimated by sample using two different test-day repeatability models. The first model included fixed effects of herd-test date, days in milk (30-d intervals) and calving month, and random effects of permanent environment, additive genetic and residual error. Estimated heritabilities in the first model ranged from 0.06 to 0.09 and repeatabilities from 0.36 to 0.45. Only small differences were detected among areas. In the second model, a random sire x herd interaction effect was added. Including the sire x herd effect resulted in heritability estimates ranging between 0.05 and 0.08 and repeatabilities from 0.35 to 0.45. The analysis revealed that only a small fraction of the total variance (0.35 to 1.5€could be explained by sire x herd interaction effect. Based on this research, it appears that parameter estimates for somatic cell count do not differ by region, and inclusion of a sire x herd interaction effect is unnecessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2555-2559
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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