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Genetic and environmental factors that affect gestation length in dairy cattle
- Genetic and environmental factors that might affect gestation length (GL) were investigated. Data included information from >11 million parturitions from 1999 through 2006 for 7 US dairy breeds. Effects examined were year, herd-year, month, and age within parity of conception; parturition code (sex and multiple-birth status); lactation length and standardized milk yield of cow; service sire; cow sire; and cow. All effects were fixed except for service sire, cow sire, and cow. Mean GL for heifers and cows, respectively, were 277.8 and 279.4 d for Holsteins, 278.4 and 280.0 d for Jerseys, 279.3 and 281.1 d for Milking Shorthorns, 281.6 and 281.7 d for Ayrshires, 284.8 and 285.7 d for Guernseys, and 287.2 and 287.5 d for Brown Swiss. Estimated standard deviations of GL were greatly affected by data restrictions but generally were approximately 5 to 6 d. Year effects on GL were extremely small, but month effects were moderate. For Holstein cows, GL was 2.0 d shorter for October conceptions than for January and February conceptions; 4.7 and 5.6 d shorter for multiple births of the same sex than for single-birth females and males, respectively; 0.8 d longer for lactations of [less-than or equal to]250 d than for lactations of greater-than-or-equal501 d; and 0.6 d shorter for standardized yield of [less-than or equal to]8,000 kg than for yield of greater-than-or-equal14,001 kg. Estimates for GL heritability from parities 2 to 5 were 33 to 36% for service sire and 7 to 12% for cow sire; corresponding estimates from parity 1 were 46 to 47% and 10 to 12%. Estimates of genetic correlations between effects of service sire and cow sire on GL were 0.70 to 0.85 for Brown Swiss, Holsteins, and Jerseys, which indicates that those traits likely are controlled by many of the same genes and can be used to evaluate each other. More accurate prediction of calving dates can help dairy producers to meet management requirements of pregnant animals and to administer better health care during high-risk phases of animals' lives. However, intentional selection for either shorter or longer GL is not recommended without consideration of its possible effect on other dependent traits (e.g., calving ease and stillbirth).
Norman, H.D. , Wright, J.R. , Kuhn, M.T. , Hubbard, S.M. , Cole, J.B. , VanRaden, P.M.
dairy cattle , pregnancy , genetic variation , environmental factors , calving , dairy breeds , breed differences , parity (reproduction) , animal age , lactation , milk yield , sires , litter size , sex ratio , genetic correlation , genes , prediction , fetal death , ease of birth
- Includes references
- Journal of dairy science 2009 May, v. 92, no. 5
- American Dairy Science Association
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
- Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.