Selective breeding can change milk protein composition to improve the manufacturing properties of milk. However, the effects of such breeding strategies on other economically important traits should be investigated before implementation. The objectives of this study were to examine the association between cow fertility traits and (1) milk protein composition and (2) milk protein variants (ß-lactoglobulin, ß-casein, ¿-casein, and ß-¿-casein) in commercial Dutch Holstein-Friesian cattle. Data on 1,644 first-lactation cows were analyzed by fitting linear mixed models. Greater relative concentration of aS1-casein within total milk protein had a positive phenotypic relationship with nonreturn rates and calving rate after first insemination. Furthermore, results showed virtually no significant relationship between cow fertility and concentration of other milk proteins or milk protein variants. Results of this study can be used to assess the correlated effects of breeding for improved milk protein composition on reproduction, thereby allowing for better evaluation of breeding programs before implementation. Our findings suggest that selecting cows based on milk protein composition or milk protein variants for improved manufacturing properties would have no negative influence on reproductive performance.
Demeter, R. M., Markiewicz, K., van Arendonk, J. A. M., & Bovenhuis, H. (2010). Relationships between milk protein composition, milk protein variants, and cow fertility traits in Dutch Holstein-Friesian cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 93(11), 5495-5502. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2010-3525