Genetic relationship between first-lactation body energy and later-life udder health in dairy cattle

G Banos, MP Coffey, E Wall, S Brotherstone

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Weekly body condition score (BCS) and live weight records were used to calculate energy content (EC) and cumulative effective energy balance (CEEB) for 508 Holstein-Friesian cows in their first lactation. Cows were raised on an experimental farm and had calved between 1991 and 2000. Energy content was an estimate of the actual energy level of a cow at any given stage of lactation, whereas CEEB was associated with the total body energy content as defined by accumulated weekly energy balance changes since the onset of lactation. Genetic evaluations were computed for the 3 body energy traits (BCS, EC, and CEEB) for each week of first lactation. Random regression models were used to assess the association between first-lactation weekly genetic evaluations for body energy and monthly test-day log-transformed SCC, clinical mastitis, and other udder problems in the first 3 lactations. There was a significant effect of at least one body energy trait at any stage of first lactation past wk 3 on SCC in the first 3 lactations. Maximum genetic correlation estimates were −0.18 (±0.04) between wk-16 BCS and SCC in the first 2 lactations, −0.18 (±0.04) between wk-11 EC and SCC in the first 2 lactations, and −0.17 (±0.07) between wk-6 CEEB and SCC in the first 2 lactations. The effect of body energy traits on clinical mastitis was, in general, nonsignificant; nevertheless, moderate genetic correlations were estimated, ranging from −0.05 (±0.07) to −0.25 (±0.15). The effect of body energy traits on udder problems other than mastitis was negligible in all cases. Results suggest that, amongst the traits studied here, BCS, EC, and CEEB in the first 3 to 4 mo of lactation 1 had the greatest genetic association with SCC and mastitis in first, second, and, to a lesser extent, third lactations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2222 - 2232
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number6
Early online date2006
Publication statusPrint publication - Jun 2006


Bibliographical note



  • Body
  • Cattle
  • Dairy
  • Dairy Cattle
  • Energy
  • Genetic
  • Health
  • Relationship
  • Udder

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