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Inbreeding and crossbreeding parameters for production and fertility traits in Holstein, Montbéliarde, and Normande cows

Dezetter, C., Leclerc, H., Mattalia, S., Barbat, A., Boichard, D., Ducrocq, V.
Journal of dairy science 2015 v.98 no.7 pp. 4904-4913
Holstein, animal models, backcrossing, breed differences, conception rate, crossbreds, dairy cows, herds, heterosis, inbreeding, inbreeding depression, milk, milk production, purebreds, somatic cells
Breed differences and nonadditive genetic effects for milk production traits, somatic cell score (SCS), conception rate (CR), and days to first service (DFS) were estimated for Holstein × Montbéliarde and Holstein × Normande crossbreds, using an animal model adapted from the French genetic evaluation and extended to across-breed analysis. Inbreeding and breed differences were estimated from all purebred recorded cows. Only records from 1,137 herds with Holstein × Montbéliarde crossbred cows and from 1,033 herds with Holstein × Normande crossbred cows were used to estimate crossbreeding parameters. In these herds, crossbred cows represented about 13% of the total number of recorded animals compared with <1% when all herds were considered. Compared with the Montbéliarde and Normande breeds, the Holstein breed was genetically superior for production [+951kg and +2,444kg for 305-d mature-equivalent (305ME) milk, +40kg and +102kg for 305ME fat, +17kg and +54kg for 305ME protein, respectively] and inferior for fertility traits (−12 and −9% for CR, respectively). Inbreeding depression caused loss of yield for production traits (from −32 to −41kg of 305ME milk, −1.4 to −1.7kg of 305ME fat, and −1.1 to −1.3kg of 305ME protein per inbreeding percentage), a small increase in SCS (+0.001 to 0.006) and DFS (+0.12d), and a decrease in CR (−0.27 to −0.44%). Favorable heterosis effects were found for all traits (+494 to 524kg of 305ME milk, +21 to 22kg of 305ME fat, +15 to 16kg of 305ME protein, −0.05 to −0.04 SCS, +2 to 3% for CR, and −3 to 6d of DFS), to such a point that F1 crossbreds could compete with Holstein cows for milk production while having a better fertility. However, recombination losses suggested that some F1 heterosis was lost for backcross cows.