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Effect of genetic merit for energy balance on luteal activity and subsequent reproductive performance in primiparous Holstein-Friesian cows

von Leesen, R., Tetens, J., Stamer, E., Junge, W., Thaller, G., Krattenmacher, N.
Journal of dairy science 2014 v.97 no.2 pp. 1128-1138
Holstein, animal ovaries, anovulation, body weight, breeding, breeding value, dairy cows, energy balance, feed intake, genetic merit, lactation, lactation curve, milk yield, parturition, phenotype, progesterone, regression analysis, reproductive performance
Postpartum energy status is critically important to fertility. However, studies dealing with the relationship between both traits are rare and most refer only to the phenotypic level. In this study, random regression models were used to generate cow-specific lactation curves for daily breeding values (BV) of energy balance (EB) to assess the effect of genetic merit for energy status on different traits derived from progesterone profiles and on subsequent reproductive performance of high-producing dairy cows. Individual feed intake, milk yield, and live weight were recorded for lactationd 11 to 180, and EB was estimated on a daily basis. The results provided the basis for the estimation of BV for 824 primiparous Holstein-Friesian cows. For a subset of these cows (n=334), progesterone profiles for the resumption of ovarian activity were available. Four different traits describing the genetic merit for EB were defined to evaluate their relationship with fertility. Two EB traits referred to the period in which the average daily EB across all cows was negative (d 11 to 55 postpartum), and 2 parameters were designed considering only daily BV for d 11 to 180 in lactation that were negative. We found that cows with a high genetic merit for EB had a significantly earlier resumption of ovarian activity postpartum. Thus, an EB (indicator) trait should be included in future breeding programs to reduce the currently prolonged anovulatory intervals after parturition.