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Response to alternative genetic-economic indices for Holsteins across 2 generations

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Four US genetic-economic indices for dairy cattle were retrofitted to illustrate differences in phenotypic response observed for retrospective selection over 2 generations for currently evaluated traits, even though producers did not have evaluations available at the time for direct selection for those traits. Differences among cows were compared based on ranking of their sires and maternal grandsires (MGS) for the 4 retrofitted indices. Holstein artificial insemination bulls (106,471) were categorized by quintile for each index, and 25 cow groups were formed based on quintiles for sire and MGS (2 generations). Data included records from 1,756,805 cows in 26,106 herds for yield traits, productive life, pregnancy rate, and somatic cell score; 692,656 cows in 9,967 herds for calving difficulty; and 270,564 cows in 4,534 herds for stillbirths. For each index, least squares differences between the 25 cow groups were examined for 8 first-parity traits (milk, fat, and protein yields; productive life; somatic cell score; pregnancy rate; calving difficulty; and stillbirth) that had been standardized for age. Analysis removed effects of herd and cow birth year. Seven of 25 cow groups were consolidated into 3 groups based on index ranking for their male ancestors (low, medium, and high). The cow group with high sire and MGS rankings for the 2006 net merit index produced more milk (219kg), fat (21kg), and protein (11kg) and had longer productive life (6.3 mo), lower somatic cell score (0.21), higher pregnancy rate (1.2 percentage units), fewer difficult births in heifers (3.8 percentage units), and lower stillbirth rate (4.6 percentage units) than did the group with low sire and MGS rankings. For cow groups based on sire and MGS rankings for 1971 (milk and fat) and 1977 (milk, fat, and protein) indices, advantages for the group with high sire and MGS rankings were much larger for yield traits but smaller (and sometimes even unfavorable) for other traits. Cow groups based on sire and MGS rankings for the 1994 net merit index generally had differences that were intermediate to groups based on sire and MGS rankings for the 1977 and 2006 indices. Phenotypic differences revealed retrospectively between genetic-economic indices indicate that genetic improvement should be made for all traits included in recent net merit indices.
Norman, H.D. , Wright, J.R. , Miller, R.H.
Includes references
Journal of dairy science 2010 June, v. 93, no. 6
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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