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Genetic association between fat-to-protein ratio and traits of economic interest in early lactation Holstein cows in Brazil

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Abstract

The aims of this study were to estimate the genetic parameters for fat-to-protein ratio (F:P) within the first 90 days of lactation and to examine their genetic associations with daily milk yield (MY), somatic cell score (SCS), and calving interval between the first and second calving (IFSC) and between the second and third calving (ISTC) during the first three lactations of Holstein cows. We utilized 200,626 production-related data officially recorded from 77,436 cows milked two or three times a day from 2012 to 2022, sourced from the Holstein Cattle Breeders Association of Paraná State, Brazil. The (co)variance components were estimated using animal models, adopting the restricted maximum likelihood (REML) method with single-trait analysis (for heritability and repeatability) and two-trait analysis (for genetic and phenotypic correlations), per lactation. Regardless of lactation number, heritability estimates were relatively low, ranging from 0.08 ± 0.005 to 0.10 ± 0.003 for F:P; 0.08 ± 0.01 to 0.18 ± 0.005 for MY; 0.04 ± 0.01 to 0.07 ± 0.004 for SCS; and 0.03 ± 0.01 for both IFSC and ISTC. Repeatability estimates within the same lactation were low for F:P (ranging from 0.17 ± 0.002 to 0.19 ± 0.03), high for MY (between 0.50 ± 0.003 and 0.53 ± 0.002), and moderate to high for SCS (between 0.39 ± 0.003 and 0.44 ± 0.004). Genetic correlations between F:P and MY ranged from -0.26 ± 0.03 to -0.15 ± 0.02; F:P and SCS, from -0.06 ± 0.03 to -0.03 ± 0.08; F:P and IFSC, 0.31 ± 0.01; F:P and ISTC, 0.20 ± 0.01; MY and IFSC, 0.24 ± 0.05; and MY and ISTC, 0.13 ± 0.08. The fat-to-protein ratio during early lactation showed low genetic variability, regardless of lactation number. Furthermore, it was genetically correlated with MY, IFSC, and ISTC, although there is an antagonistic and unfavorable correlation between traits that can limit genetic progress.

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Data availability

The datasets analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon request.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to express our gratitude to the Holstein Cattle Breeders Association of Paraná State for providing the data and the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Brazil, for providing a scholarship to DAOP.

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All authors contributed to manuscript review, editing, final proofreading and approving for submission. Conceptualization: DAOP, LEFZ, LTD. Methodology: DAOP, AFE, LEFZ, RA, RAT, LTD. Formal Analysis: DAOP, AFE. Data Curation: DAOP. Resources: AAV. Writing-Original Draft: DAOP. Writing – Review and Editing: DAOP, AFE, LEFZ, AAV, RA, RAT, LTD.

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Correspondence to Denyus Augusto de Oliveira Padilha.

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de Oliveira Padilha, D.A., Evangelista, A.F., Valloto, A.A. et al. Genetic association between fat-to-protein ratio and traits of economic interest in early lactation Holstein cows in Brazil. Trop Anim Health Prod 56, 90 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-024-03937-9

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