Genetic and phenotypic trends for age at first calving and milk yield and compositions in Holstein dairy cows
Abstract. Calving records from the Animal Breeding Center of Iran collected from January 1990 to December 2007 and comprising 207 106 first calving events of Holsteins from 2 506 herds were analysed using linear sire models to estimate genetic trends for age at first calving (AFC) and milk traits. Genetic trends were obtained by regressing yearly mean estimates of breeding values on year of birth. In general, there were decreasing genetic trends for AFC, fat percentage and protein percentage over the years but there were increasing genetic trends for milk yield, mature-equivalent milk yield, fat yield, mature-equivalent fat yield, protein yield and mature-equivalent protein yield over the years. On the other hand, there was a decreasing phenotypic trend for AFC but estimates of phenotypic trends were positive for milk yield and compositions over the years. It seems that the decline in calving age in this study over time resulted primarily from increased turnover rate and increased culling of heifers that failed to get pregnant. On the other hand, increasing trend for yield traits over time in this study indicated that Iranian dairy producers were successful in choosing progressively better semen and sires from imported and local sources over the years.