Genetic component of heat stress in dairy cattle, parameter estimation

O Ravagnolo, I Misztal
Journal of Dairy Science 2000, 83 (9): 2126-30
Our data included 119,205 first-parity, test-day records from 15,002 Holsteins in 134 Georgia farms with temperature and humidity data from 21 weather stations throughout Georgia. The test-day model included the effects of herd test date, days-in-milk (DIM) classes, age, milking frequency, general additive effect, random regression on the heat-humidity index for heat-tolerance additive effect, general permanent environment, and the random regression on the heat-humidity index for a permanent environment. The general effects, which corresponded to effects in the current repeatability models, were assumed to be correlated with the heat-tolerance effects. Variance components were estimated by REML. For heat-humidity indices below 72, heritability for milk was 0.17, and additive variance of heat tolerance was 0. For a heat-humidity index of 86 (which would correspond to temperatures of 36 degrees C at 50% humidity), the additive variance of heat tolerance was as high as for general effect, and the genetic correlation between the two effects was -0.36. Results for fat and protein were similar. Current selection for production reduces heat tolerance. Joint selection for heat tolerance and production is possible.

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