Evaluation of gestation length in Czech Holstein cattle

KAŠNÁ, Eva, ZAVADILOVÁ, Ludmila, KRUPA, Emil, KRUPOVÁ, Zuzana and KRANJČEVIČOVÁ, Anita. Evaluation of gestation length in Czech Holstein cattle. Czech Journal of Animal Science, 2020, 65, 473-481. ISSN 1212-1819.
CathegoryScientific publication in impacted journals
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An objective of our study was to evaluate gestation length and its genetic variability in the Czech Holstein population. Data set consisted of 770 865 records of gestation length in 375 574 Holstein cows and covered the period from 2012 to 2018. Mean gestation length was 277 ± 4.9 days, and it was 1.4 days longer in male calves compared to females, and 1.1 days longer in cows compared to heifers. Animal repeatability model with maternal effect was employed for variance component estimation. The direct genetic effect explained the highest proportion of variability, and it corresponded with moderate direct heritability (0.48), while maternal heritability was much lower (0.06). We estimated conventional and genomic breeding values with the genomic matrix based on 39 145 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 13 844 animals. Genomic breeding values were weakly (< 0.25) but significantly correlated with breeding values for type, production and fitness traits. Pearson correlations between breeding values indicated a negative association of direct gestation length with milk production, longevity and fertility of bulls, and a positive association of maternal gestation length with most of the type traits related to the body composition. Genetic trends for male and female parts of the population showed a tendency to the shortening of gestation, which should be of concern, as short gestation could be reflected in a negative indirect response in other correlated traits, such as the incidence of stillbirth, the health status of cows after calving, culling, or conception rate.