Environmental Sensitivity in New Zealand Dairy Cattle Academic Article uri icon


  • This study quantifies the extent of within-breed sire reranking for milk production traits in a range of environments encountered within New Zealand. Character states of herds were formed within the environmental ranges of herd fat plus protein (MS) yield, summer heat load index (HLI), herd size, and altitude. Single-trait and bivariate sire models across breeds were then applied for estimation of genetic parameters and genetic correlations between extreme character states. A low degree of sire reranking occurred, as measured by genetic correlations around 0.9, between herd environments that differed widely in MS yield (227 vs. 376 kg of MS per cow), and HLI (61.4 vs. 69.6). The HLI of 61.4 and 69.6 are approximately equivalent to average summer maximum temperatures of 19 and 25 degrees C at 80% humidity. Correlations of sire estimated breeding values in extreme character states were low, but only one was below an expected correlation accounting for the reliability of prediction. The results show the environment in New Zealand is not sufficiently diverse to warrant separate breeding schemes for different environments.


  • Bryant, JR
  • López-Villalobos, N
  • Pryce, JE
  • Holmes, CW
  • Johnson, DL
  • Garrick, DJ

publication date

  • March 2007