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Fermoy, Ireland

Carthy T.R.,Teagasc | Carthy T.R.,University College Dublin | Ryan D.P.,Reprodoc Ltd. | Fitzgerald A.M.,Teagasc | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2015

The objective of the study was to estimate genetic parameters of detailed reproductive traits derived from ultrasound examination of the reproductive tract as well as their genetic correlations with traditional reproductive traits. A total of 226,141 calving and insemination records as well as 74,134 ultrasound records from Irish dairy cows were used. Traditional reproductive traits included postpartum interval to first service, conception, and next calving, as well as the interval from first to last service; number of inseminations, pregnancy rate to first service, pregnant within 42 d of the herd breeding season, and submission in the first 21 d of the herd breeding season were also available. Detailed reproductive traits included resumed cyclicity at the time of ultrasound examination, incidence of multiple ovulations, incidence of early postpartum ovulation, heat detection, ovarian cystic structures, embryo loss, and uterine score; the latter was a subjectively assessed on a scale of 1 (little fluid with normal uterine tone) to 4 (large quantity of fluid with a flaccid uterine tone). Variance (and covariance) components were estimated using repeatability animal linear mixed models. Heritability for all reproductive traits were generally low (0.001-0.05), with the exception of traits related to cyclicity postpartum, regardless if defined traditionally (0.07; calving to first service) or from ultrasound examination [resumed cyclicity at the time of examination (0.07) or early postpartum ovulation (0.10)]. The genetic correlations among the detailed reproductive traits were generally favorable. The exception was the genetic correlation (0.29) between resumed cyclicity and uterine score; superior genetic merit for cyclicity postpartum was associated with inferior uterine score. Superior genetic merit for most traditional reproductive traits was associated with superior genetic merit for resumed cyclicity (genetic correlations ranged from -0.59 to -0.36 and from 0.56 to 0.70) and uterine score (genetic correlations ranged from -0.47 to 0.32 and from 0.25 to 0.52). Genetic predisposition to an increased incidence of embryo loss was associated with both an inferior uterine score (0.24) and inferior genetic merit for traditional reproductive traits (genetic correlations ranged from -0.52 to -0.42 and from 0.33 to 0.80). The results from the present study indicate that selection based on traditional reproductive traits, such as calving interval or days open, resulted in improved genetic merit of all the detailed reproductive traits evaluated in this study. Additionally, greater accuracy of selection for calving interval is expected for a relatively small progeny group size when detailed reproductive traits are included in a multitrait genetic evaluation. © 2015 American Dairy Science Association. Source


Fitzgerald A.M.,Reprodoc Ltd. | Fitzgerald A.M.,Teagasc | Ryan D.P.,Reprodoc Ltd. | Berry D.P.,Teagasc
Theriogenology | Year: 2015

The objective of the study was to determine (1) how gestational age predicted using transrectal ultrasonography related to actual gestational age derived as the number of days from the most recent artificial insemination date, (2) what factors, if any, were associated with the differential between the two measures, and (3) the association between this differential in gestational age and the likelihood of subsequent pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or calving dystocia. The data set contained 7340 ultrasound records from 6805 Holstein Friesian dairy cows in 175 herds. Ultrasonography assessment underestimated gestational age relative to days since last service by 0.51 days (standard error [SE]: 0.040), although the differential was less during embryonic development phase (i.e., ≤42 days of gestation; mean overestimation of 0.31 days) versus fetal development phase (i.e., >42 days of gestation; mean underestimation of 0.81 days). Predicted calving date calculated from ultrasonography was 1.41 days (SE: 0.040) later than the actual subsequent calving date and was, on average, 0.52 days later than predicted calving date, assuming a gestation length of 282 days. Parity of the dam (P < 0.05), stage of pregnancy (P < 0.001), and sex of the calf born (P < 0.001) were all associated with the differential in gestational age based on ultrasonography versus days since last service. No obvious trend among parities was evident in the difference between the methods in predicting gestational age. Ultrasonography underestimated gestational age by 0.83 (SE: 0.15) days in parity 5+ cows and underestimated gestational age by 0.41 (SE: 0.14) days in the first-parity cows. Relative to gestational age predicted from the most recent service, ultrasonography underestimated gestational age by 0.75 (SE: 0.13) days for heifer fetuses and underestimated gestational age by 0.36 (SE: 0.13) days for bull fetuses. The heritability of the differential in gestational age between the methods of prediction was low 0.05 (SE: 0.022), corroborating heritability estimates for most cow reproductive traits. Overestimation of gestational age using ultrasonography was associated with an increased likelihood of pregnancy loss (P < 0.001). Gender of calf born (P < 0.001), sire breed of calf (P < 0.001), and parity (P < 0.001) were all associated with gestation length. Gestation length was 1.27 days longer (SE: 0.01) for bull calves compared to heifer calves. Calves from beef sires had a longer gestation length than calves from dairy sires, and older parity cows had a longer gestation length than younger cows. The results highlight factors associated with differences in gestational age obtained from ultrasonography and insemination data and illustrate the value of ultrasonography for the prediction of calving date and pregnancy loss. © 2015 Elsevier Inc. Source


Carthy T.R.,Teagasc | Carthy T.R.,University College Dublin | Ryan D.P.,Reprodoc Ltd. | Fitzgerald A.M.,Teagasc | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2016

The objective of the study was to estimate the genetic relationships between detailed reproductive traits derived from ultrasound examination of the reproductive tract and a range of performance traits in Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. The performance traits investigated included calving performance, milk production, somatic cell score (i.e., logarithm transformation of somatic cell count), carcass traits, and body-related linear type traits. Detailed reproductive traits included (1) resumed cyclicity at the time of examination, (2) multiple ovulations, (3) early ovulation, (4) heat detection, (5) ovarian cystic structures, (6) embryo loss, and (7) uterine score, measured on a 1 (little or no fluid with normal tone) to 4 (large quantity of fluid with a flaccid tone) scale, based on the tone of the uterine wall and the quantity of fluid present in the uterus. (Co)variance components were estimated using a repeatability animal linear mixed model. Genetic merit for greater milk, fat, and protein yield was associated with a reduced ability to resume cyclicity postpartum (genetic correlations ranged from -0.25 to -0.15). Higher genetic merit for milk yield was also associated with a greater genetic susceptibility to multiple ovulations. Genetic predisposition to elevated somatic cell score was associated with a decreased likelihood of cyclicity postpartum (genetic correlation of -0.32) and a greater risk of both multiple ovulations (genetic correlation of 0.25) and embryo loss (genetic correlation of 0.32). Greater body condition score was genetically associated with an increased likelihood of resumption of cyclicity postpartum (genetic correlation of 0.52). Genetically heavier, fatter carcasses with better conformation were also associated with an increased likelihood of resumed cyclicity by the time of examination (genetic correlations ranged from 0.24 to 0.41). Genetically heavier carcasses were associated with an inferior uterine score as well as a greater predisposition to embryo loss. Despite the overall antagonistic relationship between reproductive performance and both milk and carcass traits, not all detailed aspects of reproduction performance exhibited an antagonistic relationship. © 2016 American Dairy Science Association. Source


Fitzgerald A.M.,Teagasc | Fitzgerald A.M.,Reprodoc Ltd. | Ryan D.P.,Reprodoc Ltd. | Carthy T.R.,Teagasc | And 2 more authors.
Theriogenology | Year: 2014

The objective of this study was to estimate the association between detailed reproductive phenotypes for cows categorized as divergent for phenotypic and genetic performance. The hypothesis was that higher yielding animals, either phenotypically or genetically, would have compromised ovarian and uterine reproductive performance. Detailed reproductive traits including multiple ovulations, cystic ovarian structures, corpus luteum (CL) presence, and uterine environment were available on 9675 ultrasound records from 8174 dairy lactating cows, calved between 10 and 70days. Cows were categorized, within parity, into low, average, or high for each of the performance traits. There was a greater likelihood of multiple ovulations in cows with greater phenotypic yields (odds ratio: 1.53-1.81) and greater genetic merit for yield (odds ratio: 1.31-1.59) relative to lower performing contemporaries. After adjustment for genetic merit, a similar trend of increased odds (odds ratio: 1.29-1.87) of multiple ovulations in higher yielding cows was observed compared with the lowest yielding category. There was no association between either phenotypic milk composition or genetic merit for milk composition with the likelihood of multiple ovulations. The likelihood of cystic ovarian structures was highest in cows with greatest phenotypic milk yields (odds ratio: 2.75-3.24), greater genetic merit for milk yield (odds ratio: 1.30-1.51), and even after adjustment for genetic merit there was a greater likelihood of cystic ovarian structures in cows with the highest milk yields (odds ratio: 2.71-2.95), compared with cows in the lowest category for each of the milk traits. Cows with average phenotypic milk yields were more likely to have a CL, compared with the lowest yielding category (odds ratio: 1.20-1.23), and these associations remained after adjustment for genetic merit of the trait. The likelihood of CL presence was highest in cows with the lowest genetic merit for milk. Lower fat:protein ratio was associated with an increased likelihood of CL presence compared with cows with greater fat:protein ratio and cows with the highest phenotypic milk composition were more likely to have a CL compared with cows in the lowest composition category. Genetic predisposition to higher somatic cell score was associated with a reduced risk of multiple ovulations (odds ratio: 0.69; 95% CI: 0.55-0.87) but an increased likelihood of CL presence (odds ratio: 2.66; 95% CI: 2.09-3.37) and poorer uterine health score (odds ratio: 1.36; 95% CI: 1.20-1.55). There was a lower likelihood of multiple ovulations, cystic ovarian structures, and poorer uterine health and an increased likelihood of CL presence in cows with superior genetic merit for reproductive performance and survival. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. Source


Carthy T.R.,Teagasc | Carthy T.R.,University College Dublin | Berry D.P.,Teagasc | Fitzgerald A.,Teagasc | And 6 more authors.
Animal | Year: 2014

The objective of this study was to identify detailed fertility traits in dairy and beef cattle from transrectal ultrasonography records and quantify the associated risk factors. Data were available on 148 947 ultrasound observations of the reproductive tract from 75 949 cows in 843 Irish dairy and beef herds between March 2008 and October 2012. Traits generated included (1) cycling at time of examination, (2) cystic structures, (3) early ovulation, (4) embryo death and (5) uterine score; the latter was measured on a scale of 1 (good) to 4 (poor) characterising the tone of the uterine wall and fluid present in the uterus. After editing, 72 773 records from 44 415 dairy and beef cows in 643 herds remained. Factors associated with the logit of the probability of a positive outcome for each of the binary fertility traits were determined using generalised estimating equations; linear mixed model analysis was used for the analysis of uterine score. The prevalence of cycling, cystic structures, early ovulation and embryo death was 84.75%, 3.87%, 7.47% and 3.84%, respectively. The occurrence of the uterine heath score of 1, 2, 3 and 4 was 70.63%, 19.75%, 8.36% and 1.26%, respectively. Cows in beef herds had a 0.51 odds (95% CI=0.41 to 0.63, P<0.001) of cycling at the time of examination compared with cows in dairy herds; stage of lactation at the time of examination was the same in both herd types. Furthermore, cows in dairy herds had an inferior uterine score (indicating poorer tone and a greater quantity of uterine fluid present) compared with cows in beef herds. The likelihood of cycling at the time of examination increased with parity and stage of lactation, but was reduced in cows that had experienced dystocia in the previous calving. The presence of cystic structures on the ovaries increased with parity and stage of lactation. The likelihood of embryo/foetal death increased with parity and stage of lactation. Dystocia was not associated with the presence of cystic structures or embryo death. Uterine score improved with parity and stage of lactation, while cows that experienced dystocia in the previous calving had an inferior uterine score. Heterosis was the only factor associated with increased likelihood of early ovulation. The fertility traits identified, and the associated risk factors, provide useful information on the reproductive status of dairy and beef cows. © The Animal Consortium 2014. Source

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