Genetic parameters of milk production traits and fatty acid contents in milk for Holstein cows in parity 1 – 3



C. Bastin, Animal Science Unit, University of Liège, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Passage des Déportés, 2, B-5030 Gembloux, Belgium. Tel: 0032 81 62 26 32; Fax: 0032 81 62 21 15;E-mail:


The objective of this study was to estimate genetic parameters of milk, fat, and protein yields, fat and protein contents, somatic cell count, and 17 groups and individual milk fatty acid (FA) contents predicted by mid-infrared spectrometry for first-, second- and third-parity Holstein cows. Edited data included records collected in the Walloon region of Belgium from 37 768 cows in parity 1, 22 566 cows in parity 2 and 8221 in parity 3. A total of 69 (23 traits for three parities) single-trait random regression animal test-day models were run. Approximate genetic correlations among traits were inferred from pairwise regressions among estimated breeding values of cow having observations. Heritability and genetic correlation estimates from this study reflected the origins of FA: de novo synthetized or originating from the diet and the body fat mobilization. Averaged daily heritabilities of FA contents in milk ranged between 0.18 and 0.47. Average daily genetic correlations (averaged across days in milk and parities) among groups and individual FA contents in milk ranged between 0.31 and 0.99. The genetic variability of FAs in combination with the moderate to high heritabilities indicated that FA contents in milk could be changed by genetic selection; however, desirable direction of change in these traits remains unclear and should be defined with respect to all issues of importance related to milk FA.