Genetics of milk yield and fertility traits in Holstein-Friesian cattle on large-scale Kenyan farms.

Imperial College at Wye, Ashford, Kent, UK.
Journal of Animal Science (Impact Factor: 1.92). 08/2001; 79(7):1742-50.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Purebred Holstein-Friesian cows are the main exotic breed used for milk production on large, medium, and small farms in Kenya. A study was undertaken on seven large-scale farms to investigate the genetic trends for milk production and fertility traits between 1986 and 1997 and the genetic relationships between the traits. This involved 3,185 records from 1,614 cows, the daughters of 253 sires. There was a positive trend in breeding value for 305-d milk yield of 12.9 kg/ yr and a drop in calving interval of 0.9 d/yr over the 11-yr period. Bulls from the United States (U.S.) had an average total milk yield breeding value 230 kg higher than the mean of all bulls used; Canada (+121 kg), Holland (+15 kg), the United Kingdom (U.K., 0 kg), and Kenya (-71 kg) were the other major suppliers of bulls. Average breeding values of bulls for calving interval by country of origin were -1.31 (Canada), -1.27 (Holland), -0.83 (U.S.), -0.63 (Kenya), and 0.68 d (U.K.). The genetic parameters for 305-d milk yield were 0.29 (heritability), 0.05 (permanent environment effect as proportion of phenotypic variance) resulting in an estimated repeatability of 0.34. Using complete lactation data rather than 305-d milk yield resulted in similar estimates of the genetic parameters. However, when lactation length was used as a covariate heritability was reduced to 0.25 and the permanent environment effect proportion increased to 0.09. There was little genetic control of either lactation length (heritability, 0.09) or calving interval (heritability, 0.05); however, there were strong genetic correlations between first lactation milk yield, calving interval, and age at first calving.

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