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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: An international overview of the recording and use of functional traits in dairy cattle breeding and management)

item Cole, John
item Stock, K
item Pryce, J
item Bradley, A
item Gengler, N
item Andrews, L
item Egger-daner, C

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/5/2012
Publication Date: 6/28/2012
Citation: Cole, J.B., Stock, K.F., Pryce, J., Bradley, A., Gengler, N., Andrews, L., Egger-Daner, C. 2012. An international overview of the recording and use of functional traits in dairy cattle breeding and management. Journal of Dairy Science. (Suppl. 2):443(abstr. 439). 2012.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: An important component in the development of sustainable dairy production systems is the maintenance of cow health and functionality. Genetic selection has resulted in substantial increases in cow productivity over the past fifty years, but health and fertility are increasingly important determinants of individual profitability. Breeding goals and selection programs are changing worldwide to reflect this shift towards greater functionality. Standardized trait definitions, recording practices and data analyses are needed to ensure that data and genetic evaluations are comparable across countries, but such efforts have proven to be difficult in practice. The International Committee for Animal Recording's Functional Traits Working Group (FTWG) has worked for several years to develop a standard defining best practices for the recording, evaluation, and genetic improvement of functional traits in dairy cattle. A review of past, current, and planned activities in many countries allowed the FTWG to identify key areas in which standards were needed. In addition to indicator traits like somatic cell score for mastitis, direct measures of health and disease will provide valuable information for genetic evaluations. Other traits, such as feed intake, may be developed and used to improve cow functionality. Guidelines for new traits must account for new sources of information and the needs of parties involved in data recording. Technical developments should be reviewed regularly to ensure that data represent the entire population, collection costs to producers and recording bodies are reasonable, and high-quality records suitable for use by management systems and genetic evaluation programs are obtained. A network of experts is needed to support the FTWG's efforts in compiling and updating the guidelines, exchanging information and experiences, and meeting the future needs of the dairy industry. A survey to assess current practices relating to the collection and evaluation of functional data has been distributed internationally.

Last Modified: 05/26/2017
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