Morten Kargo

Estimation of genetic parameters and heterosis for longevity in crossbred Danish dairy cattle

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Crossbreeding has been shown to improve the longevity of dairy cattle in countries across the world. The aim of this study was to estimate heterosis, breed effects, and genetic parameters for longevity in crossbred dairy cattle among Danish Holstein (DH), Danish Red (DR), and Danish Jersey (DJ) breeds. Data were provided from 119 Danish commercial herds that use systematic crossbreeding (i.e., rotational crossbreeding). Additional data from 11 mixed-breed herds with DH and DJ were included to estimate reliable breed effects for DJ. Survival information on 73,741 cows was analyzed with a linear animal model using the artificial insemination–REML algorithm in the DMU package. Five longevity (L) traits were defined: days from first calving until the end of first lactation or culling (L1), days from first calving until the end of second lactation or culling (L2), days from first calving until the end of third lactation or culling (L3), days from first calving until the end of fourth lactation or culling (L4), and days from first calving until the end of fifth lactation or culling (L5). Heritabilities ranged between 0.022 and 0.090. Additive breed effects in units of days were estimated relative to DH for DR as −0.5 (L1), +10.5 (L2), +18.5 (L3), +11.9 (L4), and +28.6 (L5), and corresponding figures for DJ were +2.0, +0.5, +14.2, +27.7, and +44.0. Heterosis effects in L1 were low (1.2%) but favorable in crosses between DH and DR, whereas negative heterosis effects were estimated for crosses between DH and DJ (−2.5%) and DR and DJ (−1.2%). The largest heterosis effects for L2, L3, L4, and L5 were found in DH × DR and were favorable (+3.3, +5.7, +7.7, and +8.5%, respectively). Corresponding figures for heterosis effects in DH × DJ and DR × DJ were favorable as well: +2.3, +4.1, +5.6, and +6.2% in DH × DJ and +3.1, +7.3, +6.9, and +7.2% in DR × DJ. The favorable heterosis effects show that crossbreeding is an efficient tool for improving longevity in Danish dairy cattle.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)6337-6342
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

    Research areas

  • crossbreeding, dairy cattle, longevity

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