JDS (none)
 QUICK SEARCH:   [advanced]


J. Dairy Sci. 2009. 92:2259-2269. doi:10.3168/jds.2007-0982
© 2009 American Dairy Science Association ®

This Article
Right arrow Full Text
Right arrow Full Text (PDF)
Right arrow Alert me when this article is cited
Right arrow Alert me if a correction is posted
Right arrow Similar articles in this journal
Right arrow Similar articles in PubMed
Right arrow Alert me to new issues of the journal
Right arrow Download to citation manager
Right arrow reprints & permissions
Google Scholar
Right arrow Articles by Norman, H. D.
Right arrow Articles by VanRaden, P. M.
Right arrow PubMed Citation
Right arrow Articles by Norman, H. D.
Right arrow Articles by VanRaden, P. M.

Genetic and environmental factors that affect gestation length in dairy cattle

H. D. Norman1, J. R. Wright, M. T. Kuhn, S. M. Hubbard, J. B. Cole and P. M. VanRaden

Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350

1 Corresponding author: duane.norman{at}ars.usda.gov

Genetic and environmental factors that might affect gestation length (GL) were investigated. Data included information from >11 million parturitions from 1999 through 2006 for 7 US dairy breeds. Effects examined were year, herd-year, month, and age within parity of conception; parturition code (sex and multiple-birth status); lactation length and standardized milk yield of cow; service sire; cow sire; and cow. All effects were fixed except for service sire, cow sire, and cow. Mean GL for heifers and cows, respectively, were 277.8 and 279.4 d for Holsteins, 278.4 and 280.0 d for Jerseys, 279.3 and 281.1 d for Milking Shorthorns, 281.6 and 281.7 d for Ayrshires, 284.8 and 285.7 d for Guernseys, and 287.2 and 287.5 d for Brown Swiss. Estimated standard deviations of GL were greatly affected by data restrictions but generally were approximately 5 to 6 d. Year effects on GL were extremely small, but month effects were moderate. For Holstein cows, GL was 2.0 d shorter for October conceptions than for January and February conceptions; 4.7 and 5.6 d shorter for multiple births of the same sex than for single-birth females and males, respectively; 0.8 d longer for lactations of ≤250 d than for lactations of ≥501 d; and 0.6 d shorter for standardized yield of ≤8,000 kg than for yield of ≥14,001 kg. Estimates for GL heritability from parities 2 to 5 were 33 to 36% for service sire and 7 to 12% for cow sire; corresponding estimates from parity 1 were 46 to 47% and 10 to 12%. Estimates of genetic correlations between effects of service sire and cow sire on GL were 0.70 to 0.85 for Brown Swiss, Holsteins, and Jerseys, which indicates that those traits likely are controlled by many of the same genes and can be used to evaluate each other. More accurate prediction of calving dates can help dairy producers to meet management requirements of pregnant animals and to administer better health care during high-risk phases of animals’ lives. However, intentional selection for either shorter or longer GL is not recommended without consideration of its possible effect on other dependent traits (e.g., calving ease and stillbirth).

Key Words: gestation length • breed • twinning • heritability

Copyright © 2009 by the American Dairy Science Association ®.