Genetic parameters were estimated for antibody response to paratuberculosis (Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis) using milk ELISA test results, collected and analyzed by National Milk Records, from Holstein Friesian cows on UK dairy farms in their first 3 lactations. Milk ELISA test results were obtained from 2007 to 2012 and combined with milk recording data and pedigree information. The reduced data set edited for the purposes of genetic parameter estimation consisted of 148,054 milk ELISA records from 64,645 lactations in 40,142 cows of 908 sires, recorded in 641 herds. Milk ELISA test results were loge-transformed and univariate analysis of 3 alternative animal models and equivalent sire models were considered. The most appropriate model included additive genetic and permanent environmental random effects, whereas maternal effects were significant according to likelihood ratio test and Akaike’s information criterion but not for Bayesian information criterion. Heritability and repeatability estimates were 0.06 and 0.37, respectively, for the chosen animal model and its equivalent sire model. A subset of the data including herds with greater than 10% positive tests gave a slightly higher heritability of 0.08. Favorable but generally low significant genetic correlations were obtained between antibody response with 305-d milk yield (−0.16), 305-d protein yield (−0.16), loge-transformed lactation-average somatic cell count (0.15), and the number of mastitis episodes (0.22). Thus, selection on the antibody response to paratuberculosis, should not be detrimental to production or udder health traits. Testing cattle for paratuberculosis is important for its use in control programs and although the heritability of antibody response was low, breeding against the disease might be a good prospect as a preventative measure to assist together with other approaches in an overall control strategy.
- Genetic parameters
- Milk ELISA