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Weller J.I.,Institute of Animal Science | Ezra E.,Israel Cattle Breeders Association
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2015

The objectives were to investigate the effects of various environmental factors that may affect herd-life of Israeli Holsteins, including first-calving age and season, calving ease, number of progeny born, and service sire for first calving in complete and truncated records; and to estimate heritabilities and genetic correlations between herd-life and the other traits included in the Israeli breeding index. The basic data set consisted of 590,869 cows in milk recording herds with first freshening day between 1985 and at least 8 yr before the cut-off date of September 15, 2013. Herd-life was measured as days from first calving to culling. The phenotypic and genetic trends for herd-life were 5.7 and 16.8. d/yr. The genetic trend was almost linear, whereas the phenotypic trend showed 4 peaks and 3 valleys. Cows born in February and March had the shortest herd-life, whereas cows born in September had the longest herd-life. Herd-life was maximal with calving age of 23. mo, which is 1. mo less than the mean calving age, and minimal at 19 and 31. mo of calving age. Dystocia and twinning on first-parity calving reduced herd-life by approximately180 and 120. d, but the interaction effect increased herd-life by 140. d. Heritability for herd-life was 0.14. Despite the fact that the service sire effect was significant in the fixed model analysis, service sire effect accounted for <0.05% of the total variance. In the analysis of 1,431,938 truncated records, the effects of dystocia and twinning rate were very similar but less than 50% of the effects found in the analysis of complete records. Pregnancy at the truncation date increased expected herd-life by 432. d. The correlation between actual herd-life and predicted herd-life based on truncated records was 0.44. Genetic correlations between the truncated records and actual herd-life were 0.75 for records truncated after 6. mo but approached unity for records truncated after 3 yr. The genetic correlations of herd-life with first-parity milk, fat, and protein production, somatic cell score (SCS), and female fertility were all positive, except for SCS, in which negative values are economically favorable. The highest correlations with herd-life in absolute value were with female fertility and SCS. © 2015 American Dairy Science Association. Source

Weller J.I.,Institute of Animal Science | Ezra E.,Israel Cattle Breeders Association
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2016

Five alternative models were applied for analysis of dystocia and stillbirth in first and second parities. Models 1 and 2 were included only to estimate the parameters required for model 4, and models 3 and 5 are included only as comparisons to the model 4 estimates. Variance components were estimated by multi-trait REML, including cows with valid calving records for both parities. For the effects of sire of calf on first and second parities, variance components were estimated including only calvings with the same sire of calf for both parities. All heritabilities for the cow effect were quite low, but higher for dystocia than for stillbirth and higher in first parity. The sire-of-calf heritabilities were higher than the cow effect heritabilities, except for stillbirth in parity 2. Unlike the effect of cow correlations, all sire of calf correlations were >0.6, and the correlations for the same trait in parities 1 and 2 were >0.9. Thus, a multi-trait analysis should yield a significant gain in accuracy with respect to the sire of calf effects for bulls not mated to virgin heifers. A multi-trait individual animal model algorithm was developed for joint analysis of dystocia and stillbirth in first and second parities. Relationships matrices were included both for the effects of cow and sire of calf. In addition, random herd-year-season and fixed sex of calf effects were included in the model. Records were preadjusted for calving month and age. A total of 899,223 Israeli Holstein cows with first calvings since 1985 were included in the complete analysis. Approximate reliabilities were computed for both sire of cow and sire of calf effects. Correlations between these reliabilities and reliabilities obtained by direct inversion of the coefficient matrix for a sire of cow-sire of calf model were all close to 0.99. Phenotypic trends for cows born from 1983 through 2007 were economically unfavorable for dystocia and favorable for stillbirth in both parities. Genetic trends were economically unfavorable for both dystocia and stillbirth in first parity. First-parity sire of calf trends were unfavorable for dystocia, but favorable for stillbirth. All environmental trends were nearly zero. Regressions of evaluations of the complete analysis on a model including only calvings before 2011 were all >0.8. All evaluations met the Interbull Method 3 criterion for unbiasedness. Model 4, which computed genetic evaluations for all animals for all 4 traits accounting for all known relationships and correlations among the traits, is recommended for routine genetic evaluation of calving traits. © 2016 American Dairy Science Association. Source

Kedmi M.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Kedmi M.,The Mutual | Van Straten M.,The Mutual | Ezra E.,Israel Cattle Breeders Association | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2010

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease is caused by a Culicoides-borne Orbivirus. In cattle, the disease is characterized by reduced milk production and mortality. Recent outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) in North Africa, Israel, and Turkey increase the risk of its invasion into central and northern Europe. An outbreak of EHDV in Israel during the fall of 2006 enabled an assessment of the consequent production losses to the dairy cattle industry. Reduction in milk production and involuntary culling were modeled using a 4-yr database of monthly milk and mortality records from 48 affected and 63 unaffected herds. These indices were compared between periods of outbreak and no outbreak and assessed for various levels and exposure onset. Geospatial kriging interpolation of serological results from 127 herds was used to assess the total outbreak losses for the dairy cattle industry in Israel. Herds affected during the first, second, and third month of the outbreak (September-November) experienced an average loss of 207 (95% CI=154-261), 137 (63-211), and 52 (27-76) kg of milk/milking cow, respectively, during the outbreak period. An average excess mortality and involuntary culling of 1.47/100 cows was documented in herds affected in September. High correlation was observed between EHDV seroprevalence and milk loss; average milk loss for herds with seropositivity of 26 to 50, 51 to 75, and 76 to 100% was 84, 133, and 204. kg of milk/milking cow, respectively. A 1.42% (0.91-1.93%) increase in mortality was observed in herds with seroprevalence above 50%. Losses for the dairy cattle industry interpolated from these data were estimated at US2,491,000 (US1,591,000-3,391,000), an average loss of US26.5/cow in the Israeli dairy cattle. This equals 0.55% of the average total value production of a dairy cow in Israel. This is the first study to estimate the production losses caused by EHDV or any bluetongue-like disease. © 2010 American Dairy Science Association. Source

Friedman E.,The Hebrew University | Roth Z.,The Hebrew University | Voet H.,University of Management and Economics | Lavon Y.,Israel Cattle Breeders Association | Wolfenson D.,The Hebrew University
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2012

Reduced fertility of dairy cows during periods of elevated temperature, humidity, or both might be associated with low plasma progesterone concentration. Alleviation of thermal stress by efficient cooling is a prerequisite for improving fertility by hormonal treatment. We examined whether insertion of a controlled intravaginal drug-releasing (CIDR) insert containing progesterone following artificial insemination (AI) would improve summer conception rate. Control (n = 195) and treated (CIDR; n = 165) cows, yielding on average 42.3. kg milk/d, were inseminated following estrus detection during the summer (July to October) in 2 commercial dairy herds in Israel. Mean maximal air temperature and relative humidity during the study were 30.2°C and 86%, respectively. All experimental cows were efficiently cooled throughout the study, as confirmed by measuring the body temperature of random cows. Treated cows received a CIDR insert on d 5 ± 1 post-AI for 13 d and pregnancy was confirmed by palpation 45 d post-AI. Plasma progesterone concentration in treated cows was elevated by approximately 1.5. ng/mL. Multiple logistic regressions were used to analyze conception rate. Treatment did not alter the overall conception rate; however, probability of conception increased in CIDR-treated cows with low body condition score (BCS) compared with their control counterparts (53 vs. 27%, respectively). A pronounced increase in probability of conception was recorded in CIDR-treated cows exhibiting both low BCS and postpartum reproductive disorders, compared with their control counterparts (58 vs. 14%, respectively). Exogenous progesterone supplementation on d 5 post-AI for 13 d improves summer fertility of subpopulations of cows exhibiting low BCS and postpartum reproductive disorders. Reproductive management based on specific hormonal treatment of designated subgroups of cows known to derive beneficial effects from it might improve treatment efficiency and reduce expenses. © 2012 American Dairy Science Association. Source

Shook G.E.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Chaffer M.,Kimron Veterinary Institute | Chaffer M.,University of Prince Edward Island | Wu X.-L.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Ezra E.,Israel Cattle Breeders Association
Animal Genetics | Year: 2012

Paratuberculosis (Johne's disease) is an infectious enteric disease in dairy cattle and other species that causes substantial economic loss worldwide. In this study, two recursive Gaussian-threshold models were employed in order to infer the effects of Johne's disease on milk yield, fat yield, and protein yield while simultaneously estimating genetic parameters (i.e. heritability and genetic correlation) in an Israeli Holstein population. Disease diagnosis was based on ELISA serum antibody tests. Data were available for 4694 daughters of 361 sires; 3.5% were positive; and 1.6% were suspect for the disease test. Disease status was coded either as a binary character (negative vs. positive) or as an ordered categorical trait (negative, suspect, and positive) in the two recursive models and as a binary trait in a linear model. Among sires with ≥50 daughters, predicted probability of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) infection in future daughters ranged from <1% to 16.5%. Heritability estimates for Johne's disease were near 0.15, confirming a genetic contribution to disease susceptibility. Genetic correlation estimates for Johne's disease with the three yield traits were 0.15-0.22. Residual correlations for Johne's disease with the yield traits were between -0.01 and -0.10. For the linear regression model, yield losses associated with a positive disease diagnosis during 305 days of lactation were 300 kg milk and around 10 kg for fat and protein. Yield loss estimates from the recursive models were 25-50% less than linear model estimates. Recursive modeling has theoretical advantages over linear models for these phenotypes, but the estimated genetic parameters in this study did not differ significantly between the two types of models. © 2012 Stichting International Foundation for Animal Genetics. Source

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