Genetic parameters between somatic cell score and production traits for Holstein cattle in Southern Brazil

Keywords: Holstein, genetic correlation, genetic parameters, heritability, mastitis, milk quality, milk yield, multi-trait model, somatic cell score, variance components


Background: Somatic cell score is an important parameter to predict milk quality and health of cows. However, in countries like Brazil, this trait is still not selected on a large scale, and no genetic parameters are reported in the literature. Objective: To estimate the variance components and genetic parameters for somatic cell score, milk yield, fat yield, protein yield, fat percentage, and protein percentage in Holstein cows. Methods: Records from 56,718 animals were used to estimate variance components, heritability, and genetic correlations using a multi-trait animal model by the REML method. Results: The heritability estimates were 0.19 for somatic cell score, 0.22 for milk yield, 0.26 for fat yield, 0.18 for protein yield, 0.61 for fat percentage, and 0.65 for protein percentage. The estimates of genetic correlations among analyzed traits ranged from -0.50 to 0.82. Conclusion: The low heritability observed for somatic cell score indicates that selection for this trait should result in benefits related to animal health and milk quality, but only in the long term. The low correlation between productive traits and somatic cell score indicates that inclusion of somatic cell score in animal breeding programs does not interfere negatively with the genetic selection for milk yield or solids.

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Author Biographies

Gabrieli S. Romano, Federal University of Bahia

Department of Zootechnics, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Luis Fernando B. Pinto, Federal University of Bahia

Department of Zootechnics, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Altair A. Valloto, Paraná Holstein Breeders Association
Paraná Holstein Breeders Association (APCBRH), Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil.
José-Augusto Horst, Paraná Holstein Breeders Association

Paraná Holstein Breeders Association (APCBRH), Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil.

Victor B. Pedrosa, Federal University of Bahia, State University of Ponta Grossa

Department of Zootechnics, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Bahía, Brazil. Department of Zootechnics, State University of Ponta Grossa, Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil.


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How to Cite
Romano G. S., Pinto L. F. B., Valloto A. A., Horst J.-A., & Pedrosa V. B. (2020). Genetic parameters between somatic cell score and production traits for Holstein cattle in Southern Brazil. Revista Colombiana De Ciencias Pecuarias, 33(1), 60-70.
Original research articles