Short communication: Selection for persistency by changing the shape of lactation curves with geometric morphometrics.


Institute of Animal Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, Rishon LeZion 7505101, Israel. Electronic address: [Email]


The objective was to simulate the response to selection by modifying the shape of the lactation curve to improve persistency in Israeli first-parity Holstein cattle using geometric morphometrics and multivariate quantitative genetics. The 2-dimensional Cartesian coordinates representing the shape of the lactation curve were characterized using geometric morphometrics. Genetic parameters of daily milk yield were estimated for the individual animal model using REML. Results of selection were simulated using the multivariate breeders' equation. We defined 6 selection regimens: (1) decrease in the third month in milk (MIM), (2) increase in the ninth MIM, (3) decrease in the third MIM and increase in the ninth MIM, (4) decrease in the first MIM, (5) decrease in the second MIM, and (6) decrease in the fourth MIM. The first 3 selection criteria targeted changes in the MIM of previous measurements of persistency in the Israeli Holstein population, and the last 3 targeted the months with the highest variability. All selection regimens attempted to modify the shape of the lactation curve while keeping total milk yield constant. The first 3 selection regimens showed greater total responses, with the highest response for decrease in the third MIM and increase in the ninth MIM. Magnitudes of correlated responses consistently surpassed direct responses in all selection criteria, suggesting that selection on specific parts of the lactation curve would produce correlated responses in other parts. Predicted responses to selections were depicted as shape changes from the mean shape in the data set. Most predicted responses demonstrated a fairly similar shape compared with the lactation curve. The predicted responses of lactation shapes of the last 3 selection regimens were overall lower in the first 3 MIM and decreased less in the last MIM, demonstrating a much flatter shape and thus improved persistency.


geometric morphometrics,lactation curve,persistency,shape response,