Non-genetic effects affecting fertility traits in local Reggiana cattle

Enrico Mancin, Cristina Cristina Sartori, Nadia Guzzo, Roberto Mantovani


Submitted 2020-07-24 | Accepted 2020-09-22 | Available 2020-12-01

The objectives of this study were to investigate non-genetic sources of variation of fertility in Reggiana cattle and identify the best model for future genetic analysis. Moreover, the variation of target fertility traits in the different parities and months of first service was evaluated. The investigated fertility traits were interval between calving and first insemination, interval between calving and conception, number of inseminations per conception, and calving interval. The dataset included 22,731 records of 10,502 cows, collected between 1986 and 2019. Four different models were tested: Model 1 included the fixed effects of herd-year-month of first service and parity; Model 2 separately accounted for herd-year and month of first service, in addition to parity; Model 1a and Model 2a were Model 1 and Model 2 with the addition of the effect of age at first insemination. Model 1 had an average coefficient of determination of 0.40 for the traits, and this value increased to 0.48 in Model 1a. Moving to Models 2 and 2a, the coefficient of determination dropped to average values of 0.21 and 0.27, respectively. Regarding the effect of month of first service, the best fertility performances were observed in March and April, whereas for parity effect the best performance was in third lactation. Model 1a presented the best R2 for all studied traits but data editing for age at first insemination was too strict. On the other hand, in Models 2 and 2a variance absorbed by fixed effects was low, and this resulted in potentially biased estimates. Model 1 was therefore the best trade off between data loss and predictivity.

Keywords: fertility, local cattle, Reggiana, source of variation, modelling


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