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Genotype by Environment Interaction in Nordic Dairy Cattle Studied Using Reaction Norms

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Genotype by environment interaction for production and fertility was studied by use of a reaction norm model. Milk recording data, comprising 927 929 records, were analysed to predict reaction norms for young bulls of the Nordic Red dairy breeds. Random regressions were estimated for each bull, regressing phenotypic values of daughters on herd environment. The phenotypic measures were 305 days kg protein production and days open in first lactation. The herd environment was defined as the herd-year average of protein production and days open, respectively. Heritability of protein production and days open and genetic correlation between the two traits were estimated as functions of the herd environment. The results showed that the genetic parameters change over environments, which are measured on a continuous scale across countries. Grouping of observations is avoided and thereby the problem of genetic connectedness between groups or countries may be avoided. Although significant genetic variation for the slope of the reaction norm was found, there was little reranking of sires, except between extreme environments. More appropriate models and methods need to be developed for further studies of genetic variation in reaction norms.
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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: 2002-02-01

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