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Linear and threshold model genetic parameters for disease, fertility and milk production in dairy cattle

  • H. N. Kadarmideen (a1), R. Thompson (a2) and G. Simm (a1)


A combination of better management and genetic selection for good health and fertility would provide a more effective long term solution for economic loss due to diseases and poor fertility. This would also help to address public concerns about the use of medical treatment in milk production. A balance in the genetic improvement of health and fertility together with milk production could be achieved through their inclusion in national genetic selection indices, for which genetic parameters are needed. One of the main objectives of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for various disease and fertility traits in the UK dairy cattle population, using records from a national recording scheme run by Livestock Services UK Ltd. Genetic analysis of traits recorded as present or absent (binary traits; e.g. diseases) requires the use of non-linear threshold models, because linear models require normality assumptions (e.g., Gianola 1982). The other objective of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for binary disease and fertility traits based on threshold animal models and to compare results with those from linear animal models.



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Gianola, D. 1982. Theory and analysis of threshold characters. Journal of Animal Science 56: 10791096.
Gilmour, A.R., Cullis, B.R., Welham, S.J. and Thompson, R. 1998. ASREML User's Manual, October, 1998. New South Wales Agriculture, Orange Agricultural Institute., Orange, NSW, Australia.
Pryce, J.E., Veerkamp, R.F., Thompson, R., Hill, W.G. and Simm, G. 1997. Genetic aspects of common health disorders and measures of fertility in Holstein Friesian dairy cattle. Animal Science 65: 353360


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