Including milk production, conformation, and functional traits in multivariate models for genetic evaluation of lameness
journal contributionposted on 25.11.2021, 05:32 by M Khansefid, M Haile-Mariam, Jennie PryceJennie Pryce
Lameness is a serious health and welfare issue that can negatively affect the economic performance of cows, especially on pasture-based dairy farms. However, most genetic predictions (GP) of lameness have low accuracy because lameness data are often incomplete as data are collected voluntarily by farmers in countries such as Australia. The objective of this study was to find routinely measured traits that are correlated with lameness and use them in multivariate evaluation models to improve the accuracy of GP for lameness. We used health events and treatments associated with lameness recorded by Australian farmers from 2002 to early 2019. The lameness incidence rates in Holstein and Jersey cows were 3.3% and 4.6%, respectively. We analyzed the records of 36 other traits (milk production, conformation, fertility, and survival traits) to estimate genetic correlations with lameness. The estimated heritability ± standard error (and repeatability ± standard error) for lameness in both Holstein and Jersey breeds were very low: 0.007 ± 0.002 (and 0.029 ± 0.002) and 0.005 ± 0.003 (and 0.027 ± 0.006), respectively, in univariate sire models. For the GP models, we tested including measurements of overall type to prediction models for Holsteins, stature and body length for Jersey, and milk yield and fertility traits for both breeds. The average accuracy of GP, calculated from prediction error variances, were 0.38 and 0.24 for Holstein and Jersey sires, respectively, when estimated using univariate sire models and both increased to 0.43 using multivariate sire models. In conclusion, we found that the accuracy of GP for lameness could be improved by including genetically correlated traits in a multivariate model. However, to further improve the accuracy of predictions of lameness, precise identification and recording incidences of hoof or leg disorder, or large-scale recording of locomotion and claw scores by trained personnel should be considered.