Articles | Volume 44, issue 1
10 Oct 2001
 | 10 Oct 2001

Genetic trends for milk, fat and protein in the Zimbabwean Holstein-Friesian population from 1973 to 1994

K. Kunaka, S. M. Makuza, C. B. A. Wollny, and J. W. Banda

Abstract. Genetic trends based on 30 395 records with parities 1 to 8 were estimated using average information restricted maximum likelihood algorithm (AIREML), which had overall mean, herd, month of calving, year of birth, parity and linear and quadratic effects of days in milk. Due to changes in the Zimbabwean milk recording system data set was split into records of cows born from 1973 to 1989 and the other from 1987 to 1994. The first data set was further split into even numbered herds (EVNH73) and odd numbered herds (ODNH73), due to computational limitations. The highest milk production was from May to August. Peak milk production was observed in parity 4. The heritabilities for FCM (0.22 to 0.26), fat percent (0.24 to 0.28) and protein percent (0.21) were comparable to literature values. The annual genetic trends of FCM ranged from 8.36 kg to 13.2 kg, fat per cent ranged from 0.0 % to −0.008 % and protein per cent was −0.003 % in the three data sets. Genetic trends for milk yield, fat and protein yield were also positive but overally lower than in most other countries. The positive genetic trends obtained for milk, fat and protein yields imply that some progress has been made in increasing the milk production despite the relatively small population and significant restrictions. There is need to develop a selection index to improve milk yield and milk composition.