Breeding healthier cows: Using advanced genetics to tweak health traits

Vet and cows x

The dairy industry is poised to make foundational leaps in the ability to breed healthier cows when new genomic evaluations for six direct health traits become commonplace. When that occurs, producers will be able to incorporate these new health traits into their breeding programs with official evaluations from the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB). These evaluations will be released starting in April 2018.

With producer and industry input, and based on previous research, the CDCB selected six of the most common and costly health events to develop evaluations. Rate of incidence, expected heritability, associated costs, and on-farm reporting consistency were each considered. The six health events for which CDCB will initially provide genetic and genomic evaluations include:

Hypocalcemia: commonly referred to as milk fever, typically results after calving due to low total blood calcium levels.

Displaced abomasum: enlargement of the abomasum with fluid and/or gas which causes movement to the left or right side of the abdominal cavity, usually requiring veterinary intervention.

Ketosis: build-up of ketone bodies typically occurring due to negative energy balance in early lactation.

Mastitis: infectious disease that causes inflammation of the mammary gland.

Metritis: infection of the endometrium (lining of uterus) after calving.

Retained placenta: retention of fetal membranes more than 24 hours after calving.

Read full, original post: Genetic evaluations for disease resistance are here

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