Pregnancy is a prerequisite for the initiation of lactation and for maintaining the milk production cycle. Pregnancy affects milk production and therefore should be accounted for in the genetic evaluation. Furthermore, there might be genetic differences in pregnancy effects on milk composition. The objective of this study was to estimate phenotypic and genetic effects of pregnancy on milk production traits. For this purpose, test-day records and conception dates of 1,359 first-parity Holstein-Friesian cows were analyzed. Significant effects of pregnancy on all milk production traits were detected except somatic cell score (e.g., the cumulative effects of pregnancy on milk yield were −247 kg). The pregnancy effects on milk yield, lactose yield, protein yield, fat yield, and fat content were small during early gestation (<150 d) and substantially increased in late gestation. The effects of pregnancy on milk protein yield were relatively stronger than those on fat yield. The effects of pregnancy on milk production traits differed for DGAT1 genotypes. Milk yield, lactose yield, protein yield, and fat yield of DGAT1 AA cows were more affected by pregnancy than that of DGAT1 KK cows (e.g., the cumulative effects of pregnancy on milk yield were negligible for DGAT1 KK cows and were −443 kg for DGAT1 AA cows). These results suggest that DGAT1 KK cows may be more suitable for shortening or omitting the dry period than DGAT1 AA cows.
- DGAT1 by pregnancy stage interaction
- nutrient allocation during pregnancy
- pregnancy effect