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J. Dairy Sci. 90:1021-1023
American Dairy Science Association, 2007.

Short Communication: Genetic Evaluation of Milking Speed for Brown Swiss Dairy Cattle in the United States

G. R. Wiggans*,1, L. L. M. Thornton*, R. R. Neitzel{dagger} and N. Gengler{ddagger},src="abs90_1021_files/sect.gif"

* Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350
{dagger} Brown Swiss Association, Beloit, WI 53511-5456
{ddagger} National Fund for Scientific Research, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium
src="abs90_1021_files/sect.gif" Animal Science Unit, Gembloux Agricultural University, B-5030 Gembloux, Belgium

1 Corresponding author: wiggans{at}aipl.arsusda.gov

Genetic parameters and relative breeding values were estimated for milking speed of US Brown Swiss dairy cattle. Owner-recorded milking-speed scores on a scale of 1 (slow) to 8 (fast) were collected by the Brown Swiss Association as part of its linear type appraisal program starting in 2004. Data were 7,366 records for 6,666 cows in 393 herds. The pedigree file included information for 21,458 animals born in 1985 or later. Six unknown-parent groups that each included 4 birth years were defined. The model included fixed effects for herd appraisal date and parity-lactation stage and random effects for permanent environment, animal, and error. Within parity (1, 2, and ≥3), 6 groups were defined: unknown calving date, four 90-d lactation stages, and lactations with >400 d in milk. Heritability of 0.22 and repeatability of 0.42 were estimated by average-information REML; residual variance was 1.13. Little trend in estimated breeding value was found for cows born from 1999 through 2002. Although solutions increased with lactation stage for first-parity cows by 0.37, no clear trend was found for later parities. Genetic evaluations for milking speed were expressed as relative breeding values with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 5. The 121 bulls with ≥10 daughters had milking speed evaluations that ranged from 83 to 112 and had correlations of 0.56 with productive life evaluations and 0.40 with somatic cell score evaluations. The association of faster milking speed with lower somatic cell score was not expected. The moderate heritability found for milking speed indicates that the evaluations (first released in May 2006) should be useful in detecting bulls with slow-milking daughters.

Key Words: genetic evaluation milking speed Brown Swiss

Copyright 2007 by the American Dairy Science Association.