South African Journal of Animal Science
Print version ISSN 0375-1589
DU TOIT, J.; VAN WYK, J.B. and MAIWASHE, A.. Relationships between functional herd life and conformation traits in the South African Jersey breed. S. Afr. j. anim. sci. [online]. 2012, vol.42, n.1, pp. 47-54. ISSN 0375-1589.
The genetic relationship between conformation traits and functional herd life of the South African Jersey population was investigated. Data on conformation traits (n = 46 238) and functional herd life (n = 90 530) on registered South African Jersey cows calving between 1989 and 2008 were obtained from the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System. Conformation traits were scored using a subjective linear scoring system ranging from 1 to 9, except for foot angle, with a maximum score of 8. Conformation traits included stature, chest width, body depth, dairy strength, rump angle, thurl width, rear leg side view, foot angle, fore udder attachment, rear udder height, rear udder width, udder support, udder depth, front teat placement, rear teat placement and front teat length. Genetic correlations between conformation traits and functional herd life were estimated by a series of bivariate analyses. Significant moderate to strong positive genetic correlations between most udder traits and functional herd life (0.23 to 0.63) were estimated. The most important udder traits related to functional herd life were fore udder attachment, rear udder height and udder depth. Most of the body structure traits had a low to moderate negative correlation with functional herd life (-0.04 to -0.27). However, rump angle and foot angle were estimated to have a moderate positive genetic correlation with functional herd life. The genetic relationships between functional herd life and conformation traits in the South African Jersey breed indicate that conformation traits could be used to enhance the accuracy of genetic evaluation for functional herd life. It is therefore recommended that current national genetic evaluation for functional herd life in the South African Jersey breed should include conformation traits.
Keywords : Functional herd life; genetic correlations; linear traits.