Estimating Effects of Permanent Environment, Lactation Stage, Age, and Pregnancy on Test-Day Yield

J. Bormann,*,† G. R. Wiggans,† J. C. Philpot,† T. Druet,*,† and N. Gengler*,
*Animal Science Unit, Gembloux Agricultural University, B-5030 Gembloux, Belgium †Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 ‡National Fund for Scientific Research, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium

ABSTRACT Test-day variances for permanent environmental effects within and across parities were estimated along with lactation stage, age, and pregnancy effects for use with a test-day model. Data were test-day records for calvings since 1990 for Jerseys and for Holsteins from California, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Single-trait repeatability models were fitted for milk, fat, and protein test-day yields. Method R and a preconditioned conjugate gradient equation solver were used for variance component estimation because of large datasets. Test-day yields were adjusted for environmental effects of calving age, calving season, and milking frequency and for estimated breeding value (EBV) expressed on a daily basis. To assess the effect of adjustments, test-day yields also were analyzed without adjustment. For adjusted data, permanent environmental variances across parities relative to phenotypic variance ranged from 8.3 to 15.2% for milk, 4.4 to 8.3% for fat, and 6.9 to 11.0% for protein across regions and breeds; relative permanent environmental variances within parity ranged from 31.4 to 34.7% for milk, 18.2 to 22.3% for fat, and 28.3 to 29.1% for protein and were similar across regions and breeds. Adjustment for EBV reduced permanent environmental variance across parities and removed cow genetic variance. Relative permanent environmental variances within parity from unadjusted test-day yields were nearly identical to those from adjusted test-day yields. For unadjusted test-day yields, heritabilities ranged from 0.19 to 0.30 for milk, 0.13 to 0.15 for fat, and 0.17 to 0.23 for protein. Adjustments for lactation stage, age at milking, previous days open, and days pregnant were estimated from adjusted test-day yields using the same single-trait repeatability models and variance ratios estimated for permanent environment within and across parities. Those adjustments can be applied additively to test-day yields before evaluation analysis. Variance components and solutions for the various effects can be used to calculate test-day deviations in an analysis within herd that contributes to an analysis across herds.

(Key words: test-day model, genetic evaluation, yield traits)

Received December 28, 2000.

Accepted November 7, 2001.

Corresponding author: George Wiggans, e-mail:wiggans@

1Full text available at the journal web site at