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Genetic and non-genetic factors associated with milking order in lactating dairy cows

By Donagh P. Berry, John McCarthy

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The ability to rapidly identify temporal deviations of an animal from its norm will be important in the management of individual cows in large herds. Furthermore, predictors of genetic merit for especially health traits are useful to augment the accuracy of selection, and thus genetic gain, in breeding programs. The objective of this study was to estimate the repeatability of milking order and to quantify the contribution of differences in additive genetic variation to phenotypic differences (i.e., heritability). The data used in this study included 9813 herd milk recording test-day records with time of milking from 85,532 cows in 1143 herds across an 8-year period. Milking order was available for both morning and evening milking for each cow with, on average, 3.33 milk test-day records (i.e., 6.66 milking events) per lactation, and on average 1.62 lactations per cow. Variance components for milking order were estimated using animal linear mixed models; covariance components between milking order and milk yield, milk composition and somatic cell score (i.e., logarithm10 somatic cell count) were estimated also using animal linear mixed models. The heritability of milking order was 0.20 indicating partial genetic control of milking order. The repeatability of milking order within test-day, within lactation, and across lactations was 0.63, 0.51, and 0.47, respectively. Milking order was positively (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 136
Issue 1
Pages 15-19
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.11.012
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Cattle
  2. Genetics
  3. Milk and dairy products
  4. milking