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Estimation of genetic parameters for longevity traits in dairy cattle: A review with focus on the characteristics of analytical models

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Abstract

Longevity is an economically important trait of dairy cattle for increasing the profitability of dairy management. The reasons for culling can be either voluntary (primarily productivity) or involuntary (primarily health and fertility). Longevity characteristics include: (i) true longevity (all culling reasons, including productivity); and (ii) functional longevity (all culling reasons, except productivity). Improvements to longevity are made to decrease the rate of involuntary culling rather than extend the herd life (HL). The proportional hazard model is useful for evaluating genetic ability for HL. However, the differences between estimates made using the proportional hazard model and those made using linear single or multiple‐trait animal models are not clear. The model commonly used for evaluation differs among countries. Productive traits, udder traits, and feet and legs traits are genetically correlated with longevity, and consequently these traits are used to indirectly evaluate longevity. The reliability of estimates of genetic ability for longevity is increased by combining direct and indirect estimates. In Japan, HL is evaluated using the multiple‐traits model. The genetic correlations between HL and other traits vary with the birth year. Therefore, these genetic correlations need to be reviewed regularly.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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