The objectives of this study were to estimate the heritability of body condition score loss (BCSL) in early lactation and estimate genetic and phenotypic correlations among BCSL, body condition score (BCS), production, and reproductive performance. Body condition scores at calving and postpartum, mature equivalents for milk, fat and protein yield, days to first service, and services per conception were obtained from Dairy Records Management Systems in Raleigh, NC. Body condition score loss was defined as BCS at calving minus postpartum BCS. Heritabilities and correlations were estimated with a series of bivariate animal models with average-information REML. Herdyear-season effects and age at calving were included in all models. The length of the prior calving interval was included for all second lactation traits, and all nonproduction traits were analyzed with and without mature equivalent milk as a covariable. Initial correlations between BCS and BCSL were obtained using BCSL and BCS observations from the same cows. Additional genetic correlation estimates were generated through relationships between a group of cows with BCSL observations and a separate group of cows with BCS observations. Heritability estimates for BCSL ranged from 0.01 to 0.07. Genetic correlation estimates between BCSL and BCS at calving ranged from -0.15 to -0.26 in first lactation and from -0.11 to -0.48 in second lactation. Genetic correlation estimates between BCSL and postpartum BCS ranged from -0.70 to -0.99 in first lactation and from -0.56 to -0.91 in second lactation. Phenotypic correlation estimates between BCSL and BCS at calving were near 0.54, whereas phenotypic correlation estimates between BCSL and postpartum BCS were near -0.65. Genetic correlations between BCSL and yield traits ranged from 0.17 to 0.50. Genetic correlations between BCSL and days to first service ranged from 0.29 to 0.68. Selection for yield appears to increase BCSL by lowering postpartum BCS. More loss in BCS was associated with an increase in days to first service.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology