The objectives of this study were to estimate the heritability of body condition scores (BCS) from producer and consultant-recorded data and to describe the genetic and phenotypic relationships among BCS, production traits, and reproductive performance. Body condition scores were available at calving, postpartum, first service, pregnancy check, before dry off, and at dry off from the Dairy Records Management Systems in Raleigh, NC, through the PCDART program. Heritabilities, genetic correlations, and phenotypic correlations were estimated assuming an animal model using average information REML. Herd-year-season effects and age at calving were included in all models. Prior calving interval was included in models for second and third lactations. Analyses that included reproductive traits were conducted with and without mature equivalent milk as a covariable. Heritability estimates for BCS ranged from 0.09 at dry-off to 0.15 at postpartum in first lactation. Heritability estimates ranged from 0.07 before dry-off to 0.20 at pregnancy check in second lactation and from 0.08 before dry-off to 0.19 at first service in third lactation. Genetic correlations between adjacent BCS within first lactation were greater than 0.96 with the exception of calving and postpartum (0.74). In second lactation, adjacent genetic correlations were 1.0 with the exception of calving and postpartum (0.84). Genetic correlations across lactations were greater than 0.77. Phenotypic correlations between scoring periods were highest for adjacent scoring periods and when BCS was lowest. Phenotypic correlations were lower than genetic correlations, i.e., less than 0.70. Higher BCS during the lactation were negatively related to production, both genetically and phenotypically, but the relationship was moderate. Higher BCS were favorably related genetically to reproductive performance during the lactation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology