Research-Article| Volume 72, ISSUE 10, P2665-2669, October 1989

Heifer Fertility and Its Relationship with Cow Fertility and Production Traits in Holstein Dairy Cattle

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      Breeding receipts from three AI units were merged with Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corporation and Record of Performance production records. Data comprised 53,705 heifer, 41,253 lactation 1, 14,688 lactation 2, and 3054 lactation 3 records by daughters of 2150 sires represented in 15,877 herd-year-seasons of birth. Three measures of heifer fertility, three measures of cow fertility, and three measures of production were investigated. Measures of heifer fertility were ages at first and last breeding and number of inseminations per conception. Cow fertility traits were days from calving to first breeding, days open, and number of inseminations per conception. Production traits were breed class average milk, breed class average fat, and fat percentage. Relationships among these nine traits for the first three lactations were estimated using a maximum likelihood multiple-trait procedure. The linear mixed model for each trait included fixed effects of herd-year-season of birth and genetic groups of sire and the random effect of sire. Transformations of the data for non-normality had no influence on the estimates of genetic and phenotypic parameters. The heritability of .12 for age at first insemination, which was higher than other heifer fertility traits, indicated that selection would result in genetic response. Genetic and phenotypic correlations between heifer fertility and cow fertility and production traits in all three lactations were not different from zero.
      There was no genetic antagonism between fertility and subsequent production traits.


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