Genetic aspects of common health disorders and measures of fertility in Holstein Friesian dairy cattle Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractThe purpose of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for measures offertility and several health disorders in dairy cows. Data consisted of 33732 records, of which 9163 were on heifers, on 305-day milk yield, health disorders and inseminations. Measures offertility were calculated from calving and insemination dates and included calving interval, days to first service and conception to first service. Health disorders included milk fever, mastitis and lameness. Genetic and phenotypic (co)variances were estimated using restricted maximum likelihood. Heritability estimates for both health disorders and fertility traits were low, ranging from 0·003 to 0·080. All genetic correlations between 305-day milk yield and health and fertility traits, in cows and heifers together, were antagonistic implying that selection for milk yield may have caused a deterioration in health and fertility. The unfavourable correlation between milk yield and health and fertility traits, plus the economic importance of the latter, suggests that future breeding goals should be expanded to include some health disorders and fertility.


  • Pryce, JE
  • Veerkamp, RF
  • Thompson, R
  • Hill, WG
  • Simm, G

publication date

  • December 1997