Title: Heritability estimates of performance and health traits of Holstein calves Authors
Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 23, 2013
Publication Date: July 8, 2013
Citation: Mousa, M.S., Seykora, A.J., Chester-Jones, H., Ziegler, D.M., Cole, J.B. 2013. Heritability estimates of performance and health traits of Holstein calves. Journal of Dairy Science. 96(E-Suppl. 1):291 (abstr. W194). Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to estimate heritabilities of performance and health traits of Holstein calves. Data were available on 6410 AI sire-identified Holstein heifer calves reared at University of Minnesota, Southern Research and Outreach Center Calf and Heifer Research and Extension facility in Waseca, MN, collected at one to three days of age from three commercial dairy farms in Minnesota from April 2003 to May 2012. Calves were edited from the data set if they were in sire progeny groups of less than two, leaving 6189 observations for analysis. Performance traits were weight (W56) and hip height (HH56) at 56 days of age, weight (LBW) and hip height (LHH) approximately 200 days of age, and average daily gain from arrival to weaning at 56 days of age (WADG) and from arrival to 200 days of age (LADG). Health traits include: 1) daily scours score (Sc); 2) respiratory disease (RD); 3) navel infection (Na); and 4) hernia (He). All health traits were scored on a 3-point scale. The MIXED procedure of SAS 6.1 was used to estimate variance components with sire fitted as a random variable. Significant fixed effects in the model were year of birth, month of birth, year of birth x month of birth, arrival body weight (ABW) and serum protein (SP) (P < 0.01). Performance traits were moderately heritable, with estimates ranging from 0.25 to 0.37. Health traits were more lowly heritable, ranging from 0.01 to 0.11. These results suggest that calf performance and health can be improved genetically.