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J. Dairy Sci. 2007. 90:2489-2496. doi:10.3168/jds.2006-436
2007 American Dairy Science Association

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Stillbirth (Co)Variance Components for a Sire-Maternal Grandsire Threshold Model and Development of a Calving Ability Index for Sire Selection

J. B. Cole1, G. R. Wiggans, P. M. VanRaden and R. H. Miller

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

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

(Co)variance components for stillbirth in US Holsteins were estimated under a sire-maternal grandsire threshold model using subsets of data from the national calving ease database, which includes over 6 million calving records with associated stillbirth scores. Stillbirth was coded as a binomial trait indicating whether the calf was alive 48 h postpartum. Records were selected for calves whose sire and maternal grandsire (MGS) were among the 2,600 most frequently appearing bulls (2,578 sires and 2,586 MGS). Herd-years were required to contain at least 20 records and only single births were used. After editing, the data set included 2,083,979 calving records from 5,765 herds and 33,304 herd-years. Six sample datasets of approximately 250,000 records each were created by randomly selecting herd codes. Quasi-REML and Bayesian approaches were used to estimate (co)variance components from each sample. The model included fixed year-season, parity-sex, birth year group of sire, and birth year group of MGS effects and random herd-year, sire, MGS, and residual effects. Quasi-REML and Bayesian analyses produced similar results, although the Bayesian estimates were slightly larger. Marginal posterior means (and standard deviations) from the Bayesian analysis averaged 0.0085 (0.0015), 0.0181 (0.0020), 0.0872 (0.0538), and 0.00410 (0.0001) for sire, MGS, and herd-year variances and the sire-MGS covariance, respectively. Mean direct and maternal heritabilities were 0.030 (0.003) and 0.058 (0.005), respectively, and the mean genetic correlation between the 2 effects was 0.02 (0.16). A calving ability index combining stillbirth (SB) and calving ease (CE) was developed for inclusion in the Lifetime Net Merit index. The index was calculated as 4(sire CE)3(daughter CE)4(sire SB) 8(daughter SB).

Key Words: calving ability index stillbirth threshold model variance component




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J. B. Cole, G. R. Wiggans, and P. M. VanRaden
Genetic Evaluation of Stillbirth in United States Holsteins Using a Sire-Maternal Grandsire Threshold Model
J Dairy Sci, May 1, 2007; 90(5): 2480 - 2488.
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