Somatic Cells Count and Its Genetic Association with Milk Yield in Dairy Cattle Raised under Thai Tropical Environmental Conditions

  • Jattawa, D. ;
  • Koonawootrittriron, S. ;
  • Elzo, M.A. ;
  • Suwanasopee, T.
  • Received : 2012.03.23
  • Accepted : 2012.05.28
  • Published : 2012.09.01


Somatic cells count (SCC), milk yield (MY) and pedigree information of 2,791 first lactation cows that calved between 1990 and 2010 on 259 Thai farms were used to estimate genetic parameters and trends for SCC and its genetic association with MY. The SCC were log-transformed (lnSCC) to make them normally distributed. An average information-restricted maximum likelihood procedure was used to estimate variance components. A bivariate animal model that considered herd-yr-season, calving age, and regression additive genetic group as fixed effects, and animal and residual as random effects was used for genetic evaluation. Heritability estimates were 0.12 (SE = 0.19) for lnSCC, and 0.31 (SE = 0.06) for MY. The genetic correlation estimate between lnSCC and MY was 0.26 (SE = 0.59). Mean yearly estimated breeding values during the last 20 years increased for SCC (49.02 cells/ml/yr, SE = 26.81 cells/ml/yr; p = 0.08), but not for MY (0.37 kg/yr, SE = 0.87 kg/yr; p = 0.68). Sire average breeding values for SCC and MY were higher than those of cows and dams (p<0.01). Heritability estimates for lnSCC and MY and their low but positive genetic correlation suggested that selection for low SCC may be feasible in this population as it is in other populations of dairy cows. Thus, selection for high MY and low SCC should be encouraged in Thai dairy improvement programs to increase profitability by improving both cow health and milk yield.


Dairy Cattle;Milk Yield;Selection;Somatic Cell Count;Tropics


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