The objectives of this study were to quantify the relationships of various definitions of feed utilization with both fertility and productive life. Intake and body measurement data were collected monthly on 970 cows in 11 tie-stall herds for 6 consecutive months. Measures of feed utilization for this study were dry matter intake (DMI), dry matter intake efficiency (DME, defined as 305-d fat-corrected milk/305-d DMI), DME with intake adjusted for maintenance requirements (DMEM), crude protein efficiency (defined as 305-d protein yield/305-d crude protein intake), and 2 definitions of residual feed intake (RFI). The first, RFIreg, was calculated by regressing daily DMI on daily milk, fat, and protein yields, body weight (BW), daily body condition score (BCS) gain or loss, the interaction between BW and BCS gain or loss, and days in milk. The second, RFINRC, was estimated by subtracting 305-d DMI predicted according to their fat-corrected milk and BW from actual 305-d DMI. Data were analyzed with 8-trait animal models and included one measure of feed utilization and milk, fat, and protein yields, BW, BCS, days open (DO), and productive life (PL). The genetic correlation between DME and DO was 0.53 (±0.19) and that between DME and PL was 0.66 (±0.10). These results show that cows who had higher feed efficiency had greater DO (undesirable) and greater PL (desirable). Results were similar for the genetic correlation between DO and crude protein efficiency (0.42). Productive life had genetic correlations of -0.22 with BW and -0.48 with BCS, suggesting that larger, fatter cows in this study had shorter PL. Correlations between estimated breeding values for feed utilization and official sire genetic evaluations for fertility were in agreement with the results from the multiple-trait models. Selection programs intended to enhance feed efficiency should factor relationships with functional traits to avoid unfavorable effects on cow fertility.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology