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Article

Can We Observe Expected Behaviors at Large and Individual Scales for Feed Efficiency-Related Traits Predicted Partly from Milk Mid-Infrared Spectra?

1
TERRA Research Centre, University of Liège-Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium
2
Valorisation of Agricultural Products Department, Walloon Agricultural Research Centre, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(5), 873; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050873
Received: 17 April 2020 / Revised: 14 May 2020 / Accepted: 15 May 2020 / Published: 18 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
Feed efficiency and the sustainability of dairy farming are critical concerns for the dairy industry. Studying feed efficiency at a large scale would benefit cow breeding and management on the farm but is unrealistic in the current context due to practical issues. This study used the milk recording database to predict traits related to feed efficiency at large and individual scales in order to observe their behavior throughout the year, and by the lactation stage and parity. This could open new perspectives in the acquisition of traits related to body weight and dry matter intake to develop future selection programs aiming to improve the feed efficiency of dairy cows.
Phenotypes related to feed efficiency were predicted from records easily acquired by breeding organizations. A total of 461,036 and 354,148 records were collected from the first and second parity Holstein cows. Equations were applied to the milk mid-infrared spectra to predict the main milk components and coupled with animal characteristics to predict the body weight (pBW). Dry matter intake (pDMI) was predicted from pBW using the National Research Council (NRC) equation. The consumption index (pIC) was estimated from pDMI and fat, and protein corrected milk. All traits were modeled using single trait test-day models. Descriptive statistics were within the expected range. Milk yield, pDMI, and pBW were phenotypically positively related (r ranged from 0.08 to 0.64). As expected, pIC was phenotypically negatively correlated with milk yield (−0.77 and −0.80 for the first and second lactation) and slightly positively correlated with pBW (0.16 and 0.07 for the first and second lactation). Later, parity cows seemed to have a better feed efficiency as they had a lower pIC. Although the prediction accuracy was moderate, the observed behaviors of studied traits by year, stage of lactation, and parity were in agreement with the literature. Moreover, as a genetic component was highlighted (heritability around 0.18), it would be interesting to realize a genetic evaluation of these traits and compare the obtained breeding values with the ones estimated for sires having daughters with reference feed efficiency records. View Full-Text
Keywords: mid-infrared spectra; milk; feed efficiency; phenotypes mid-infrared spectra; milk; feed efficiency; phenotypes
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhang, L.; Gengler, N.; Dehareng, F.; Colinet, F.; Froidmont, E.; Soyeurt, H. Can We Observe Expected Behaviors at Large and Individual Scales for Feed Efficiency-Related Traits Predicted Partly from Milk Mid-Infrared Spectra? Animals 2020, 10, 873. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050873

AMA Style

Zhang L, Gengler N, Dehareng F, Colinet F, Froidmont E, Soyeurt H. Can We Observe Expected Behaviors at Large and Individual Scales for Feed Efficiency-Related Traits Predicted Partly from Milk Mid-Infrared Spectra? Animals. 2020; 10(5):873. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050873

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zhang, Lei, Nicolas Gengler, Frédéric Dehareng, Frédéric Colinet, Eric Froidmont, and Hélène Soyeurt. 2020. "Can We Observe Expected Behaviors at Large and Individual Scales for Feed Efficiency-Related Traits Predicted Partly from Milk Mid-Infrared Spectra?" Animals 10, no. 5: 873. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050873

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