Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/27/2004
Publication Date: 10/1/2004
Citation: Dechow, C.D., Rogers, G.W., Klei, L., Lawlor, T.J., Van Raden, P.M. 2004. Body condition scores and dairy form evaluations as indicators of days open in US Holsteins. Journal of Dairy Science. 87(10):3534-3541.
Interpretive Summary: Genetic correlations of the interval from calving to conception (number of days open) with 2 measures of a cow's tendency to be angular and thin or rounded and fatter (body condition score and dairy form) were calculated. A tendency to be angular and thin was genetically correlated with more days open. Body condition scores and dairy form could be combined with days open observations to increase the accuracy of a sire's genetic evaluation for days open.
Technical Abstract: The objectives of this study were to estimate genetic correlations among body condition score (BCS), dairy form, milk yield, and days open in US Holsteins and investigate the potential of using BCS or dairy form evaluations as early indicators of days open. Dairy form and BCS obtained from the Holstein Association USA, Inc., were merged with mature equivalents (ME) for milk yields and days open data from AIPL-USDA. Cows were required to be classified between 24 and 60 mo of age, before 335 d in milk (DIM) and have ME milk of at least 4537 kg. A minimum of 20 daughters per sire and 10 cows per herd-classification visit (HV) or herd-year-season of calving (HYS) were required. The final data set included 159,700 records. Heritabilities and correlations among dairy form, BCS, milk yield, and days open were estimated with multiple trait sire models. Fixed effects included age at classification for dairy form and BCS, age at calving for milk yield, HV for dairy form and BCS, HYS for milk yield and days open, DIM within lactation group for dairy form and BCS and lactation group for milk yield and days open. Correlations among dairy form, BCS, and days open were generated with and without a ME milk covariable. Correlations between ME milk and days open were generated with and without covariables for dairy form or BCS. Random effects included sire and error. The genetic correlation estimates of days open with dairy form, BCS, and ME milk were 0.48, -0.30, and 0.38, respectively. The genetic correlation estimate between days open and dairy form was 0.38 after adjustment for ME milk, whereas the genetic correlation between days open and BCS was -0.24 after adjustment for ME milk. Combining dairy form evaluations with days open evaluations for 19 recently proven bulls resulted in an average increase of 0.06 for reliability of days open evaluations. The addition of BCS evaluations did not increase reliability when dairy form observations were available.