Estimation of ancestral inbreeding effects on stillbirth, calving ease and birthweight in German Holstein dairy cattle

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In this study, the effect of different measurements of ancestral inbreeding on birthweight, calving ease and stillbirth were analysed. Three models were used to estimate the effect of ancestral inbreeding, and the estimated regression coefficient of phenotypic data on different measurements of ancestral inbreeding was used to quantify the effect of ancestral inbreeding. The first model included only one measurement of inbreeding, whereas the second model included the classical inbreeding coefficients and one alternative inbreeding coefficient. The third model included the classical inbreeding coefficients, the interaction between classical inbreeding and ancestral inbreeding, and the classical inbreeding coefficients of the dam. Phenotypic data for this study were collected from February 1998 to December 2008 on three large commercial milk farms. During this time, 36 477 calving events were recorded. All calves were weighed after birth, and 8.08% of the calves died within 48 h after calving. Calving ease was recorded on a scale between 1 and 4 (1 = easy birth, 4 = surgery), and 69.95, 20.91, 8.92 and 0.21% of the calvings were scored with 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively. The average inbreeding coefficient of inbred animals was 0.03, and average ancestral inbreeding coefficients were 0.08 and 0.01, depending on how ancestral inbreeding was calculated. Approximately 26% of classically non-inbred animals showed ancestral inbreeding. Correlations between different inbreeding coefficients ranged between 0.46 and 0.99. No significant effect of ancestral inbreeding was found for calving ease, because the number of animals with reasonable high level of ancestral inbreeding was too low. Significant effects of ancestral inbreeding were estimated for birthweight and stillbirth. Unfavourable effects of ancestral inbreeding were observed for birthweight. However, favourable purging effects were estimated for stillbirth, indicating that purging could be partly beneficial for genetic improvement of stillbirth.

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