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Genetic Evaluation of Somatic Cell Counts of Holstein Cattle in Zimbabwe

  • Mangwiro, F.K. (University of Zimbabwe, Department of Animal Science) ;
  • Mhlanga, F.N. (University of Zimbabwe, Department of Animal Science) ;
  • Dzama, K. (University of Zimbabwe, Department of Animal Science) ;
  • Makuza, S.M. (University of Zimbabwe, Department of Animal Science)
  • Received : 1999.12.20
  • Accepted : 2000.04.11
  • Published : 2000.10.01

Abstract

The objectives of the study were to examine non-genetic factors that influence somatic cell counts in dairy cattle and to estimate the genetic parameters of somatic cell counts. A total of 34, 097-test day somatic cell count records were obtained from the Zimbabwe Dairy Services Association (ZDSA). The data were from 5, 615 Holstein daughters of 390 sires and 2, 541 dams tested between May 1994 and December 1998. First lactation cows contributed 22, 147 records to the data set, while 11, 950 records were from second and later parity cows. The model for analysis included fixed effects of month of calving, year of calving, stage of lactation, calving interval and test date. Milk yield and age on test day were fitted in the model as covariates. The additive genetic effects pertaining to cows, sires and dams and the residual error were the random effects. The Average Information Restricted Maximum Likelihood algorithm was used for analysis. The heritability of somatic cell scores was low at $0.027{\pm}0.013$ for parity one cows and $0.087{\pm}0.031$ for parity two and above. Repeatability estimates were $0.22{\pm}0.01$ and $0.30{\pm}0.01$ for the two lactation groups, respectively. Genetic and phenotypic correlations between the somatic cell scores and test day milk production were small and negative. It seems that there is no genetic link between somatic cell counts and milk yield in Holstein cattle in Zimbabwe. The results also seem to indicate that somatic cell count is a trait that is mainly governed by environmental factors.

Keywords

Individual Somatic Cell Counts;Genetic Parameters;Holstein Cattle;Zimbabwe