Approaches to estimating daily yield from single milk testing schemes and use of a.m.-p.m. records in test-day model genetic evaluation in dairy cattle

Z Liu, R Reents, F Reinhardt, K Kuwan
Journal of Dairy Science 2000, 83 (11): 2672-82
Statistical models were presented to estimate daily yields from either morning or evening test results. The 64,451 test-day records from 10,392 lactations of 8800 cows were available for analysis from experiments that were designed to investigate the accuracy of an alternate morning and evening four-weekly milk-testing scheme. The experiments were conducted in 152 herds from six German states and covered a span from 1994 to 1998. Milk yield, fat, and protein percentage were recorded for all of the morning and evening milkings. Seven statistical models were fitted to the data to derive formulas for estimating daily yields from morning or evening yields. In general, use of evening milkings less accurately estimated yields than did use of morning milkings. Among the three yield traits the lowest accuracy of estimation of daily yield was found for fat yield. Although the models do not differ much in the correlation between estimated and true daily yields, systematic under- and overestimation of daily yield at the beginning and end of lactation were observed in all models with the exception of model 6, which accounted for heterogeneous variances by parity class, milking interval class, and lactation stage by fitting separate regression formulas within each combination of the three factors. A study to validate the models showed that model 6 is also robust for the analyzed populations. Smoothing model 6 regression formulas across lactation stages caused a systematic pattern of estimation error, although loss in accuracy was minimal by fitting far fewer parameters in the regression formulas. Differences in the accuracy of alternate milking schemes to predict daily yields were found between traits, between morning and evening milkings, and between parity classes. Compared with true daily yields from different lactation stages, variances and correlations of the estimated yields were reduced, which must be accounted for in genetic evaluation. The use of estimated daily yields from morning or evening milkings has a smaller impact on estimated breeding values of bulls than cows. As a result of lower heritability and repeatability of estimated daily yields than true daily yields, the weight on own test-day records for estimating cows' breeding values is lower when cows are in a.m.-p.m. than conventional monthly testing schemes. However, the difference in the weights between estimated and true daily yields decreases as lactation progresses. Use of estimated daily yields is less reliable for estimating breeding value than use of true daily yields.

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