Heritabilities and correlations among body condition score, dairy form and selected linear type traits

C. D. Dechow, G. W. Rogers, L. Klei, T. J. Lawlor

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41 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to estimate the heritability of body condition score (BCS) with data that could be used to generate genetic evaluations for BCS in the US, and to estimate the relationship among BCS, dairy form and selected type traits. Body condition score and linear type trait records were obtained from Holstein Association USA Inc. Because BCS was a new trait for classifiers, scoring distribution and accuracy was not normal. Records from 11 of 29 classifiers were eliminated to generate a data set that should represent BCS data recorded in the future. Edited data included 128,478 records for analysis of first lactation cows and 207,149 records for analysis of all cows. Heritabilities and correlations were estimated with ASREML using sire models. Models included age at calving nested within lactation, 5th order polynomials of DIM, fixed herd-classification visit effects and random sire and error. Genetic correlation estimates were generated between first lactation data that had records from 11 classifiers removed and data with no classifiers removed. Genetic correlation estimates were 0.995 and above between data with and without classifiers removed for scoring distributions, but heritability estimates were higher with the classifiers edited from the data. Heritability estimates for type traits and final score were similar to previously reported estimates. The heritability estimate for BCS was 0.19 for first lactation cows and 0.22 for all cows. The genetic correlation estimate for first lactation cows between BCS and dairy form was -0.73, whereas the genetic correlation estimate between BCS and strength was 0.72. Genetic correlation estimates were nearly identical when cows from all lactations were included in the analyses. Body condition score had a genetic correlation with final score closer to zero (0.08) than correlations of final score with dairy form, stature or strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2236-2242
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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