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An analysis of the genetic relationship between udder health and udder conformation traits in South African Jersey cows

Dube, B., Dzama, K., Banga, C.B., Norris, D.
Animal 2009 v.3 no.4 pp. 494-500
dairy cows, Jersey, animal performance, milk yield, mammary glands, teats, body conformation, dimensions, lactation, health status, bovine mastitis, somatic cell count, quantitative traits, genetic correlation, heritability, selection criteria, multivariate analysis, South Africa
A multi-trait animal model was used to estimate genetic parameters among lactation somatic cell score (SCS) and udder-type traits in South African Jersey cattle, through restricted maximum likelihood (REML) procedures. Data comprised records on 18 321 Jersey cows in 470 herds, collected through the National Milk Recording Scheme from 1996 to 2002. Average SCS in the first three lactations (SCS1, SCS2 and SCS3) were considered as different traits and the udder-type traits were fore udder attachment (FUA), rear udder height (RUH), rear udder width (RUW), udder cleft (UC), udder depth (UD), fore teat placement (FTP), rear teat placement (RTP) and fore teat length (FTL). Heritability estimates for the respective lactation SCS were 0.07 ± 0.01, 0.11 ± 0.01 and 0.11 ± 0.02. Udder-type traits had heritability estimates ranging from 0.14 ± 0.01 for UD to 0.30 ± 0.02 for FTL. Genetic correlations between SCS and udder-type traits ranged from −0.003 ± 0.07 between FUA and SCS3 to −0.50 ± 0.07 between UD and SCS3. Slow genetic progress is expected when selection is applied independently on SCS and udder-type traits, due to the generally low heritabilities. Tightly attached shallow udders with narrowly placed rear teats are associated with low SCS in the Jersey population.