Genetic parameters for claw and leg health, foot and leg conformation, and locomotion in Danish Holsteins

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M. V. Laursen, D. Boelling, Thomas Mark

The purpose of this study was to estimate the genetic correlations among claw and leg health and potential indicator traits. Claw health was defined as absence of heel horn erosion, interdigital dermatitis, interdigital phlegmon, interdigital hyperplasia, laminitis, and sole ulcer. Leg health was defined as absence of hock infection, swollen hock, and bruising. The potential indicators were locomotion and foot and leg conformation, represented by rear leg side view, rear leg rear view, foot angle, and apparent hock quality and bone structure. The study was conducted using records from 429,877 Danish Holstein cows in first lactation. Binary health traits were divided into 3 subcategories: claw health, leg health, and absence of all claw and leg disorders. Genetic (r(g)) and phenotypic correlations were estimated using a bivariate linear sire model and REML. Estimated heritabilities were 0.01 for all 3 combined claw and leg health traits (on the observed binary scale), 0.09 for locomotion, 0.14 for rear leg rear view, 0.19 for rear leg side view, 0.13 for foot angle, 0.22 for apparent hock quality, and 0.27 for apparent bone structure. Heritabilities were 0.06 and 0.01 for claw health and leg health, respectively, when transformed to the underlying continuous scale. Claw and leg disorders are an increasing problem for Danish Holsteins, but genetic improvement of claw and leg health is challenging because the traits have low heritabilities. Claw and leg health were separate but correlated traits (r(g) = 0.35). Locomotion and rear leg rear view were useful indicator traits for claw health (r(g) = 0.46 and r(g) = 0.21, respectively), whereas hock quality and bone structure were useful indicators for leg health (r(g) = 0.42 and 0.26, respectively). Claw and leg health should be considered as separate traits in genetic evaluations that also include the useful indicator traits to compensate for low heritability of the health traits.
TidsskriftJournal of Dairy Science
Sider (fra-til)1770-1777
Antal sider8
StatusUdgivet - 2009

ID: 12600816