Abstract

Relationship between calf size at birth with its own and its dam’s performance in Holstein cattle M. Haile-Mariam1 & J.E. Pryce1,2 1 Agriculture Research Victoria, Bundoora, VIC 3083, Australia Mekonnen.HaileMariam@ecodev.vic.gov.au (Corresponding author) 2 School of Applied Systems Biology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC 3083, Australia The effects of a calf’s size (CS) on subsequent performance and on their dams performance were studied using data from Holstein cattle. Overall CS at birth was scored subjectively into 5 categories: tiny, small, average, big and huge and had significant effects on performance as adult. Tiny and small calves at birth produced significantly less milk than those scored big and huge. Also calves that were scored to be of average at birth had better fertility relative to those scored as huge. Variability in CS also had a significant effect on the subsequent performance of their dams. Cows that had tiny calves produced less 305- (806 Litre) and 150- (292 Litre) day milk yields and have poorer survival than cows that produced an average sized calf. Heifers that calved earlier than average (i.e. at younger age) were more likely to produce tiny and small calves. Survival from 1st to 2nd lactation was also reduced by 8 and 7% if the size of the calf produced was huge and tiny, respectively. Overall the effect of producing calves that are different from average affected the performance of the dam more than the performance of a calf as an adult. The relationship between size at birth and performance as an adult to some extent reflects the antagonistic relationship of fitness with size and production traits in dairy cattle. Keywords: calf size, adult performance, genetic correlations

Mekonnen Haile-Mariam, Jennie Pryce

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Electronic Poster Session - Biology & Species - Bovine (dairy) 1, , 247, 2018
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