Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2006

Genetic evaluation of mastitis in dairy cattle using linear models, threshold models, and survival analysis: A simulation study

Carlen E, Emanuelson U, Strandberg E


The objective was to study, by simulation, whether survival analysis results in a more precise genetic evaluation for mastitis in dairy cattle than cross-sectional linear models and threshold models by using observation periods for mastitis of 2 lengths (the first 150 d of lactation, and the full lactation, respectively). True breeding values for mastitis liability on the underlying scale were simulated for daughters of 400 sires (average daughter group size, 60 or 150), and the possible event of a mastitis case within lactation for each cow was created. For the linear models and the threshold models, mastitis was defined as a binary trait within either the first 150 d of lactation or the full lactation. For the survival analysis, mastitis was defined as the number of days from calving to either the first case of mastitis (uncensored record) or to the day of censoring (i.e., day of culling, lactation d 150 or day of next calving; censored record). Cows could be culled early in lactation (within 10 d after calving) for calving-related reasons or later on because of infertility. The correlation between sire true breeding values for mastitis liability and sire predicted breeding values was greater when using the full lactation data (0.76) than when using data from the first 150 d (0.70) with an average of 150 daughters per sire. The corresponding results were 0.60 and 0.53, respectively, with an average of 60 daughters per sire. Under these simulated conditions, the method used had no effect on accuracy. The higher accuracy of sire breeding values can be translated into a greater genetic gain, unless counteracted by a longer generation interval

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2006, Volume: 89, number: 10, pages: 4049-4057