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Research article2008Peer reviewed

Genetic improvement of dairy cow reproductive performance

Berglund, B.


The welfare of cow along with profitability in production are important issues in sustainable animal breeding programmes. Along with an intense/intensive selection for increased milk yield, reproductive performance has declined in many countries, in part due to an unfavourable genetic relationship. The largely unchanged genetic trend in female fertility and calving traits for Scandinavian Red breeds shows that it is possible to avoid deterioration in these traits if they are properly considered in the breeding programme. Today's breeding is international with a global selection and extensive use of the best bulls. The Nordic countries have traditionally recorded and performed genetic evaluation for a broad range of functional traits including reproduction. In recent years many other countries have also implemented genetic evaluation for these traits. Thus, the relative emphasis of dairy cattle breeding objectives has gradually shifted from production to functional traits such as reproduction. Improved ways of recording traits, e.g. physiological measures, early indicator traits, assisted reproductive techniques and increased knowledge of genes and their regulation may improve the genetic selection strategies and have large impact on present and future genetic evaluation programmes. Extensive data bases with phenotypic recordings of traits for individuals and their pedigree are a prerequisite. Quantitative trait loci have been associated to the reproductive complex. Most important traits, including reproduction traits are regulated by a multitude of genes and environmental factors in a complex relationship, however. Genomic selection might therefore be important in future breeding programmes. Information on single nucleotide polymorphism has already been introduced in the selection programmes of some countries.

Published in

Reproduction in Domestic Animals
2008, Volume: 43, pages: 89-95

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Veterinary Science
    Animal and Dairy Science

    Publication identifier


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