The Effect of Inbreeding on Lifetime Performance of Dairy Cattle


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Virginia Tech


Data for this study were age-adjusted linear scores on all cows scored between 1980 and 1993. Lifetime production information on these cows and their herdmates was used to calculate Relative Net Income adjusted for opportunity cost (RNIOC) for the 2,249,835 cows with an 84 month herdlife opportunity. The effect of inbreeding was analyzed using both a fixed and animal model, with little difference in results. Inbreeding depressed RNIOC by $12.69 in a fluid market and $11.53 in a manufacturing market per 1% increase in inbreeding. Addition of somatic cell information in the profit function had little effect. Heritabilities of profit functions were .16 and .14 for a fluid and manufacturing market, respectively. Animal model estimates of inbreeding depression were +.16 days, -6.7 days and -5.1 days for age at first freshening (AFF), days of productive life (DPL) and days in milk (TDIM), respectively. Inbreeding decreased first lactation mature equivalent milk, fat, and protein by 23.7 kg, .85 kg, and .76 kg, respectively and lifetime milk, fat, and protein production by 176.9 kg, 6.4 kg, 5.6 kg, respectively per 1% increase in inbreeding. Inbreeding had little effect on conformation traits. Effects of inbreeding were cumulative, exacting a larger effect on lifetime profit functions than on individual traits, when expressed as a percent of additive standard deviation. This study gives evidence that though not alarming, inbreeding has a deleterious effect on the lifetime performance of dairy cattle.



inbreeding, lifetime profit, relative net income, opportunity cost