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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

The effect of genetic defects on pregnancy loss in Swedish dairy cattle

Ask Gullstrand, Patricia; Strandberg, Erling; Båge, Renee; Rius-Vilarrasa, E.; Berglund, Britt


The effect of carrier status of 10 lethal recessive genetic defects on pregnancy maintenance in Swedish dairy cattle was examined. The genetic defects were Ayrshire Haplotype 1, Ayrshire Haplotype 2, BTA12, BTA23, and Brown Swiss Haplotype 2 in Red Dairy Cattle (RDC), and Holstein Haplotype 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7 (HH1–HH7) in Holstein. Effects of carrier status of BTA12 and HH3 on conception rate (CR), interval from first to last service (FLS), and milk production were also examined. Data were obtained for 1,429 herds in the Swedish milk recording system, while information on carrier status of genetic defects was obtained from the Nordic Cattle Genetic Evaluation. In total, data on 158,795 inseminations in 28,432 RDC and 22,018 Holstein females were available. Data permitted separate analyses of BTA12 and HH3, but carrier frequencies of other defects were too low to enable further analysis. Pregnancy loss was defined as failure to maintain pregnancy, where pregnancy status was confirmed with manual and chemical pregnancy diagnosis, insemination, calving, sales and culling data. Odds ratios (OR) and probabilities of pregnancy loss and CR were estimated using generalized linear mixed models, while pregnancy loss, CR, FLS, milk, protein, and fat yields were analyzed using linear mixed models. Pregnancy losses were reported on average within the first month post-AI. At-risk matings were more prone to suffer pregnancy loss in BTA12 (OR = 1.79) and HH3 carriers (OR = 1.77) than not-at-risk matings. At-risk matings also had lower CR (OR = 0.62 and 0.63 for BTA12 and HH3, respectively) than not-at-risk matings. Carrier females of BTA12 had longer FLS and higher milk production than noncarriers. Conception rate and pregnancy maintenance could be improved by avoiding at-risk matings. This finding could help reduce pregnancy loss due to genetic defects in the breeding program for improved fertility.


pregnancy loss; genetic defects; Bos autosome 12; Holstein Haplotype 3

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2024, Volume: 107, number: 5, pages: 2999-3005