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Zb. Bioteh. Fak. Univ. Ljub., Kmet. Supl.

, 31(oktober 2001), 301-307

Original scientific paper


Izvirni znanstveni prispevek

FIXED EFFECTS FOR 305-DAY LACTATION MILK TRAITS IN CATTLE

Gregor GORJANCa), Špela MALOVRHb), Betka LOGARc) and Milena KOVAČd)

a)Univ. of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Fac., Zootechnical Dept., Groblje 3, SI-1230 Domžale, Slovenia
b)Same address, B.Sc.Agr.
c)Agricultural institute of Slovenia, Hacquetova 17, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, M.Sc., B.Sc. Agr.
d)Univ. of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Fac., Zootechnical Dept., Groblje 3, SI-1230 Domžale, Slovenia, Prof., Ph.D,
M.Sc., B.Sc.Agr.

A B S T R A CT

Fixed part of the model for genetic evaluation of milk (MY), fat (FY), protein yield (PY), as well
as fat (FC) and protein content (PC) in dairy cattle was studied. During the period 1975-2000,
786551 records of milk and fat from 243634 dairy cows of Black-and-White (B&W), Brown
(BR) and Simmental (SI) breed were obtained from 13077 herds in Slovenia. Dataset for PY and
PC covered 479456 records and 173069 cows between years 1990 and 2000. Breeds were
analysed separately. Parities higher than seventh were combined in one class. The model for
yields included fixed effects of calving season, parity, as well as age at calving within parity and
length of lactation as quadratic polynomials. Calving season and linear regression for age at
calving were sufficient for FC and PC. Age at calving fitted with quadratic regression within
parity showed considerable patterns. Findings from this research will be utilised in adjacent
study of random effects in the model for genetic evaluation of milk traits in Slovenia.
Key words: cattle / lactation yields / models / season / parity / age at calving / lactation length

SISTEMATSKI VPLIVI ZA LASTNOSTI MLEČNOSTI V STANDARDNI LAKTACIJI


PRI GOVEDU

IZVLEČEK

Preučevali smo sistematski del modela za napovedovanje plemenskih vrednosti za količino


mleka (MY), maščobe (FY) in beljakovin (PY) kakor tudi za vsebnost maščob (FC) in
beljakovin (PC) pri govedu. V analizo MY, FY in FC smo vključili 786551 zapisov 243634 krav
črno-bele (B&W), rjave (BR) in lisaste pasme (SI) iz 13077 čred v Sloveniji, ki so telile med leti
1975 in 2000, za PY in PC pa 479456 zapisov 173069 krav med leti 1990 in 2000. Analizo smo
opravili ločeno po pasmah. Osmo in višje zaporedne laktacije (ZL) smo združili. Model za
količine je vseboval sistematske vplive sezone telitve in ZL ter starost ob telitvi znotraj ZL in
dolžino laktacije kot kvadratni regresiji. Model za vsebnosti je vključeval le sezono telitve in
linearno regresijo za starost ob telitvi. Starost ob telitvi je kot kvadratna regresija znotraj ZL
kazala značilne trende. Rezultate raziskave bomo uporabili v analizi naključnih vplivov modela za
napovedovanje plemenskih vrednosti za lastnosti mlečnosti v Sloveniji.
Ključne besede: govedo / mlečnost / laktacijski zaključki / modeli / sezona / zaporedna laktacija / starost ob telitvi /
dolžina laktacije

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Zb. Bioteh. Fak. Univ. Ljub., Kmet. Supl., 31(oktober 2001), 301-307

INTRODUCTION

Genetic evaluation of dairy traits in cattle has undergone many changes in the last years.
Contemporary comparison method and sire model were replaced by animal model in almost all
Interbull member countries as well as in others. The animal model accounts for relationship
among animals and results in simultaneous evaluation of cows and bulls. Nevertheless, a few
countries have already implemented test-day model in routine genetic evaluations and intensive
research in random regression area promises further changes.
Despite of intentional shift towards advanced evaluation methods, there are still many
differences among countries and organizations, which are for member countries reviewed by
Interbull (2000). Countries around the world use different models and effects to fit the data.
Effects like lactation length, parity, age at calving, calving interval, days open in current
lactation, breed, different management groups, seasons of calving and birth, herd-year-season
interaction, region and number of milkings per day are usually applied in pre-adjustments or
implemented in models for lactation records (Interbull, 2000).
In the year 2000, Slovenia replaced sire model with an animal model. Specific production
environment in Slovenia requires appropriate effects in the statistical model. For this reason,
research in this area is still in place and the aim of this study was to determine systematic
components of the model for genetic evaluation of milk traits in dairy cattle.

MATERIAL AND METHODS

The Slovenian Cattle Breeding Association provided data for 201 to 305-day lactation records
for milk (MY), fat (FY), and protein yield (PY), as well as fat (FC) and protein content (PC). For
the milk yield and fat traits in Black-and-White (B&W) and Simmental breed (SI), lactation
records of cows calved between 1980 and 2000 were included, while data for Brown breed (BR)
originated from 1975. Regular measuring of protein content in milk started later; therefore,
lactation records for protein traits were considered between years 1990 and 2000. The dataset
used in analysis of MY, FY, and FC contained records from 243634 dairy cows (63894 B&W,
71863 BR, and 107877 SI) from 13077 herds. Another dataset with PY and PC covered records
from 173069 dairy-cows (48176 B&W, 82933 SI, 41960 BR) in 9560 herds.

Statistical analysis

Only the records with known birth and calving date, parity and lactation yields were analysed.
Parities after seventh were combined in one class. The age at calving was nested within parity. It
was restricted from 20 to 50 months in the first parity and for additional 10 to 15 months in
successive lactations up to the sixth. In higher parities, age interval was wider (Table 1). Season
of calving was included as year-quarter interaction. Similar seasons (year-quarters) with less then
30 records per class were joined.
On the basis of preliminary analyses of milk traits, the effects were restricted from 0 to 200
days for dry days (DD), from 21 to 400 days for days open (DO) and from 231 (21 DO + 201
days in milk, DIM) to 705 days (400 DO + 305 days from conception) for calving interval. These
effects were included as covariables, but they were not statistically significant or they did not
contribute to the model improvement, and thus excluded from further analysis.

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Table 1: Summary statistics for age at calving in months by parities


Parity Records (%) Mean SD Min Max
1 25.28 29 4.1 20 50
2 20.44 42 5.1 30 65
3 15.95 56 6.0 40 80
4 12.19 69 6.9 50 95
5 9.02 82 7.8 60 110
6 6.42 95 8.4 75 125
7 4.37 108 9.0 90 140
8≤ 5.97 132 15.3 105 170
SD – standard deviation

For the statistical analysis, procedure GLM from statistical package SAS/STAT (1989) was
used. Choice of the model and effects based on coefficient of determination (R2), degrees of
freedom (df), as well as significance and proportion of variation explained by effect studied.
Like the breeding goals are different for each breed, the models were developed separately for
each breed.

Model selected

Preliminary analyses showed that model 1 could be used in all three breeds for yields and
model 2 for fat and protein contents. Effects of calving season (Ci) and parity (Pj) where
considered as fixed effects with levels (Gorjanc et al., in preparation). Age at calving (xijk) in
MY, FY and PY was included as quadratic regression nested within parity, and linear in FC and
PC. Length of lactation (zijk) was also treated as quadratic regression in MY, FY, and PY only.
All included effects were highly statistically significant (p < 0.0001).
y ijk = µ + C i + P j + b Ii (x ijk − x ) + b IIi (x ijk − x ) + b III (z ijk − z j ) + b IV (z ijk − z j ) + e ijk
2 2
[1]
y ij = µ + C i + b I ( x ij − x ) + e ij [2]

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Descriptive statistics for studied milk traits by breed are given in Table 2. SI breed has
contributed majority (46.4 %) of data, B&W is the smallest population with 22.7 % of records.
As expected, B&W cows had higher yields and lower fat and protein contents than BR and SI in
observed period. In spite of the fact that SI is not special dairy breed, some cows reached
production comparable to the best BR cows. Nevertheless, the highest values for milk
(14360 kg), fat (668.4 kg), and protein (495.1 kg) yields were recorded in B&W. FC and PC
among breeds were very similar in means and standard deviations. All traits were increased
steadily over years as a result of genetic and environmental changes. In general, other European
countries have comparable level in FC and PC (ICAR, 2000).

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Table 2: Descriptive statistics for milk traits by breed


Trait Breed Records Mean SD Min Max
MY (kg) B&W 178742 5811 1546.5 961 14360
BR 242602 4106 1127.0 890 11672
SI 365207 3725 1043.4 612 11078
FY (kg) B&W 178735 226.0 65.80 35.5 668.4
BR 242556 160.7 49.82 24.0 545.7
SI 365189 146.6 45.80 25.0 561.0
FC (%) B&W 178731 3.89 0.485 2.01 6.96
BR 242565 3.89 0.395 2.00 6.93
SI 365189 3.92 0.399 2.00 6.98
PY (kg) B&W 124180 192.0 51.04 31.5 495.1
BR 117238 143.3 41.81 30.6 437.8
SI 238039 127.1 37.46 20.1 368.0
PC (%) B&W 124178 3.18 0.239 2.00 4.94
BR 117238 3.22 0.237 2.01 4.96
SI 238040 3.26 0.233 2.00 4.92
MY – milk yield; FY - fat yield; PY – protein yield; FC- fat content; PC - protein content; SD – standard deviation;
B&W – Black-and-White; BR – Brown; SI - Simmental

Proportion of variation explained in MY, FY and PY with model 1 ranged between 25 and
32 % (Table 3). Higher percentage of determined variation were in FY, followed by MY and PY.
Season of calving represented majority of explained variation (8.5-10.9 %, 14.8-17.4 % and
10.6-11.6 % for MY, FY and PY, respectively). Parity explained from 3.1 to 8.1 %, lactation
length from 8.3 to 9.9 %, while age at calving within parity covered from 0.4 to 1.5 %. The
portion of explained variation in FC and PC was lower (from 10.97 to 17.33 %). In analysis of
FC and PC, season of calving showed even higher proportion of explained variation (10.37 to
16.21 %).
Table 3: Coefficient of determination (R2) and degrees of freedom (df) for models fitted by breed
Black-and-White Brown Simmental
2 2 2
Trait Model R (%) df R (%) df R (%) df
MY 1 26.85 108 28.75 128 25.67 108
FY 1 30.76 108 31.69 128 30.12 108
PY 1 26.49 68 25.18 78 24.55 68
FC 2 11.20 83 15.15 103 17.33 83
PC 2 12.39 43 17.02 43 10.97 43
MY – milk yield; FY - fat yield; PY – protein yield; FC- fat content; PC - protein content

Seasonal phenotypic trends were evident in all traits as shown for milk yield in Figure 1.
Effect of season explained two sources of variation: long-term increase in all traits, probably
caused by selection, improved management and structural changes through years and on the
other hand, oscillations within years, caused by short-term changes in climate and management.
In general, cows calved in first and fourth quarter of year had higher yields and in third higher
contents, respectively.
Parity and cow’s age as effects were in dairy cattle thoroughly investigated. Alteration
through parities was described with classes in this study (Figures 2-4). There was evident
increase of MY, FY and PY from the first to the third, fourth or fifth lactation, depending on the
trait and breed. This is in agreement with Anderson (1985) who reported that production of cow

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reaches the peak around fifth lactation, when animal is seven to eight years old. At that time,
cow gains to adult body size. Therefore, increase in production is caused by maturation and
increase in body and mammary gland. Mammary gland grows and develops parallel to growing,
maturation and recurring pregnancies and lactations (Anderson, 1985). Bagnato et al. (1994)
reported that cows of the same age but different parity have different production, and that
differences are particularly evident for the first and second parity. Models for genetic evaluation
of milk traits include age at calving in different forms: only as age or parity and as interactions
between age and parity (Interbull, 2000). Bonaiti et al. (1993) and Wiggans and VanRaden
(1994) demonstrated that estimates of genetic trends are quite sensitive to the proper age and
parity adjustment factors. Therefore, parity and age at calving produce joint effect on milk
production, which should be included in the model. Age at calving modelled as quadratic
regression within parity shows a reasonable pattern evident from Figures 2-4. In breeds with
higher milk production (B&W and BR), traits were more influenced by age within parity
comparing to SI breed (Figures 3 and 4). No peak yields but just declining was seen after the
fifth parity. Decrease after peak in MY, FY and PY by age within calving could also be
associated with poor management (Mao et al., 1973).
1500 Breed: Black-and-White
Brown
1000 Simmental
Lactation milk yield, kg

500

-500

-1000
1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000
Season
Figure 1: Lactation milk yield by season of calving and breed

4600 40

4400 35
4 5 6
Records within parity, %
Lactation milk yield, kg

3 30
4200
7
2 25
4000 8>
20
3800
1 15
3600
10
3400 5
3200 0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180
Age at calving, month
Figure 2: Lactation milk yield by age at calving within parity for Brown breed

9th Int. Symp. "Animal Science Days", Radenci, Slovenia, Oct. 03-05, 2001

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Zb. Bioteh. Fak. Univ. Ljub., Kmet. Supl., 31(oktober 2001), 301-307

6500
3 4
6000 5
2 6
Lactation milk yield, kg

5500 7
1 8>
5000 Black-and-White
4500

4000 5
3 4 6
2 7
3500 8>
1 Simmental
3000
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180
Age at calving, month
Figure 3: Lactation milk yield by age at calving within parity for Black-and-White and
Simmental breed

250 3 4
5
225 2 6
Lactation fat yield, kg

200 1 7
Black-and-White
8>
175

150 3 4 5
2 6
7
1 8>
125 Simmental

100
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180
Age at calving, month
Figure 4: Lactation fat yield by age at calving within parity for Black-and-White and Simmental
breed

6500 Averages 2000


Standard deviation
6000 Regression 1800
Lactation milk yield, kg

Standard deviation, kg

5500
1600
5000
1400
4500
1200
4000

3500 1000
200 220 240 260 280 300
Days in milk
Figure 5: Lactation milk yield by lactation length in Black-and-White breed

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Quadratic regression was also applied to accommodate the influence of lactation length
(Figure 5). Yields increased with longer lactations, as expected. Termination of lactation before
305th day is usually caused by diseases or injuries. If records under 305 days in lactation were
excluded, genetic evaluation could be biased.

CONCLUSIONS

The systematic influences in 305-lactation yields for Black-and-White, Brown and Simmental
breed were studied. Two models were developed. The model for yields considered fixed effects
of calving season and parity, as well as age at calving within parity and length of lactation as
independent variables. The model for fat and protein content needed to be simpler, and consisted
of only calving season and linear regression for age at calving.
Therefore, season of calving, parity, age at calving and lactation length were found to be
important effects in milk production for all three breeds studied. The fixed part of model
described here will be applied in further study of random effects in the model for genetic
evaluation of milk traits in Slovenia.

REFERENCES
Anderson, R. R. Mammary gland. In: Lactation (Ed.: Larson, B. L.). Ames, The Iowa state university press, 1985,
276 p.
Bagnato, A./ Canavesi, F./ Rozzi, P. Effect of parity in age adjustment factors in the Italian Holstein Friesian cattle
breed. In: 5th World congress on genetics applied to livestock production, XVII, Guelph, 1994-08-07/12. Guelph,
University of Guelph, 1994, 30–33.
Bonaiti, B./ Boichard, A./ Barbat, S./ Mattalia, S. Problems arising with genetic trend estimation in dairy cattle. In:
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9th Int. Symp. "Animal Science Days", Radenci, Slovenia, Oct. 03-05, 2001