Comparison of Test Interval and Best Prediction Methods for Estimation of Lactation Yield from Monthly, a.m.-p.m., and Trimonthly Testing

H. D. NORMAN,* P. M. VanRADEN,* J. R. WRIGHT,* and J. S. CLAY
*Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350
Dairy Records Management Systems, Raleigh, NC 27695

ABSTRACT A method with best prediction properties that condenses information from all test days into measures of lactation yield and persistency has been proposed as a possible replacement for the test interval method and projection factors. The proposed method uses previously established correlations between individual test days and includes inversion of a matrix for each lactation. Milk weights that were representative of monthly, a.m.-p.m., and trimonthly test plans were examined to compare the accuracy of best prediction and test interval methods for estimating lactation yield. Individual milk weights or daily yields of 658 Canadian cows in 17 herds were selected to correspond to test intervals for 100,000 US cows. For a.m.-p.m. testing, the initial milk weight that was credited was selected randomly from the a.m. or p.m. milking and was alternated thereafter. Trimonthly credits were from one of the first three designated test day weights, selected randomly, and each third designated test weight thereafter. Correlations between 305-d actual lactation yield and lactation estimates by the test interval method were 0.97, 0.96, and 0.93 for monthly, a.m.-p.m., and trimonthly testing, respectively. Corresponding correlations for the best prediction method were 0.97, 0.97, and 0.93. Standard deviations of differences between estimated and 305-d actual yields for monthly, a.m.-p.m., and trimonthly testing were 373, 400, and 546 kg, respectively, for best prediction regressed on herd mean, which was a reduction in estimation error of 4, 6, and 10% over the test interval method. The advantage of best prediction was moderate if two milk weights were recorded monthly and was larger if testing was less frequent. Advantages also were found for fat and protein yields estimated by multitrait best prediction for records with reduced component sampling.

Key Words: test interval method, best prediction, lactation yield

1999 J. Dairy Sci. 82:438-444

© 1999, by the American Dairy Science Association. All rights reserved.