Articles | Volume 58, issue 1
04 Mar 2015
 | 04 Mar 2015

Genetic and environmental determinants of the urea level in cow's milk

A. Czajkowska, B. Sitkowska, D. Piwczyński, P. Wójcik, and S. Mroczkowski

Abstract. This study was conducted on a sample of 2237 Polish Holstein-Friesian cows. The aim was to estimate the effect of selected environmental factors on the level of urea in cow's milk and on its genetic parameters, i.e. the heritability coefficients, and genetic correlation with other selected traits of milk production. The present study has revealed the existence of a highly significant influence of herd, year of calving, parity, lactation phase, and milk performance level on the urea content in cow's milk. A high urea level in milk was detected in samples collected from older animals, both during the winter season and the middle phase of lactation (101–200 days).

The heritability estimates were generally at a low level, particularly in terms of milk yield (0.183) and urea content (0.152–0.159), which may indicate the dominant role of the environment in shaping them. Relatively low values of genetic correlation (−0.097–0.140) between the urea content and other traits suggest that improvement of milk yield and its composition modify the urea level in milk only to a small degree.