Prediction of liveweight of cows from type traits and its relationship with production and fitness traits Academic Article uri icon


  • Liveweight (LWT) data for Australian Holstein cows was predicted from different type traits based on actual LWT and type data of 932 cows collected from 20 different herds over a 3-yr period. In addition to LWT measured using scales, visual estimates of LWT were also available on 90% of the cows with LWT data. The future predictive ability of different models was assessed using 10-fold cross-validation. The relationships between LWT and selected type traits, including body condition score (BCS), were also calculated to assess the usefulness of various traits to predict LWT genetically. The relationships of predicted LWT measures with production and fitness traits were also estimated in an attempt to assess the consequence of continuous selection on an economic index that includes predicted LWT with a negative economic value. The heritability of LWT was 0.4. Among type traits, stature, chest width, bone quality, BCS, udder depth, central ligament, and muzzle width were correlated with LWT both genetically and phenotypically and were used to predict LWT of cows. Predicted LWT measures, using several sets of traits and visually estimated LWT were genetically highly correlated with each other (>0.73). Phenotypically, visually estimated LWT of cows was slightly more correlated with actual LWT than that predicted from type traits, but genetically both approaches gave the same accuracy. The predicted estimates of LWT were also positively genetically correlated with energy-corrected milk yield and had near zero correlation with survival. The correlations of different measures of LWT with fertility traits were unfavorable or near zero, suggesting that selection for reduced LWT may not cause deterioration in fertility traits. However, it may be useful to consider broadening the breeding objective to include traits that are associated with energy balance, particularly if traits such as BCS and bone quality are included in the set of traits used to predict LWT. Based on the results from this study, the inclusion of predicted LWT with negative economic values into the breeding objective would have no negative effect on fitness traits.


publication date

  • 2014