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See detailModeling heat stress under different environmental conditions
Carabano, Maria-Jesus; Logar, Betka; Bormann, Jeanne et al

in Journal of Dairy Science (2016)

Renewed interest in heat stress effects on livestock productivity derives from climate change, which is expected to increase temperatures and the frequency of extreme weather events. This study aimed at ... [more ▼]

Renewed interest in heat stress effects on livestock productivity derives from climate change, which is expected to increase temperatures and the frequency of extreme weather events. This study aimed at evaluating the effect of temperature and humidity on milk production in highly selected dairy cattle populations across three European regions differing in climate and production systems to detect differences and similarities that can be used to optimize heat stress (HS) effect modeling. Milk, fat and protein test day data from official milk recording for years 1999 to 2010 in four Holstein populations located in the Walloon Region of Belgium (BEL), Luxembourg (LUX), Slovenia (SLO) and Southern Spain (SPA) were merged with temperature and humidity data provided by the state meteorological agencies. After merging, the number of test day records/cows per trait ranged from 686,726/49,655 in SLO to 1,982,047/136,746 in BEL. Values for the daily average and maximum temperature and humidity index (THIavg and THImax) ranges for THIavg/THImax were largest in SLO (22-74/28-84) in SLO and shortest in SPA (39-76/46-83). Change point techniques were used to determine comfort thresholds, which differed across traits and climatic regions. Milk yield showed an inverted U shaped pattern of response across the THI scale with a HS threshold around 73 THImax units. For fat and protein, thresholds were lower than for milk yield and were shifted around 6 THI units towards larger values in SPA compared with the other countries. Fat showed lower HS thresholds than protein traits in all countries. The traditional broken line model was compared to quadratic and cubic fits of the pattern of response in production to increasing heat loads. A cubic polynomial model allowing for individual variation in patterns of response and THIavg as heat load measure showed the best statistical features. Higher/lower producing animals showed less/more persistent production (quantity and quality) across the THI scale. The estimated correlations between comfort and THIavg values of 70 (which represents the upper end of the THIavg scale in BEL-LUX) were lower for BEL-LUX (0.70 - 0.80) than for SPA (0.83 - 0.85). Overall, animals producing in the more temperate climates and semi-extensive grazing systems of BEL and LUX showed HS at lower heat loads and more re-ranking across the THI scale than animals producing in the warmer climate and intensive indoor system of SPA. [less ▲]

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See detailCapitalizing in fine milk composition for breeding and management of dairy cows
Gengler, Nicolas ULg; Soyeurt, Hélène ULg; Dehareng, Fréderic et al

in Journal of Dairy Science (2016), 99

The challenge of managing and breeding dairy cows is permanently adapting to changing production circumstances under socio-economic constraints. If managing and breeding address different timeframes of ... [more ▼]

The challenge of managing and breeding dairy cows is permanently adapting to changing production circumstances under socio-economic constraints. If managing and breeding address different timeframes of action, both need relevant phenotypes that allow for precise monitoring of the status of the cows, and their health, behavior, and well-being as well as their environmental impact and the quality of their products (i.e., milk and subsequently dairy products). Milk composition has been identified as an important source of information because it could reflect, at least partially, all these elements. Major conventional milk components such as fat, protein, urea, and lactose contents are routinely predicted by mid-infrared (MIR) spectrometry and have been widely used for these purposes. But, milk composition is much more complex and other nonconventional milk components, potentially predicted by MIR, might be informative. Such new milk-based phenotypes should be considered given that they are cheap, rapidly obtained, usable on a large scale, robust, and reliable. In a first approach, new phenotypes can be predicted from MIR spectra using techniques based on classical prediction equations. This method was used successfully for many novel traits (e.g., fatty acids, lactoferrin, minerals, milk technological properties, citrate) that can be then useful for management and breeding purposes. An innovation was to consider the longitudinal nature of the relationship between the trait of interest and the MIR spectra (e.g., to predict methane from MIR). By avoiding intermediate steps, prediction errors can be minimized when traits of interest (e.g., methane, energy balance, ketosis) are predicted directly from MIR spectra. In a second approach, research is ongoing to detect and exploit patterns in an innovative manner, by comparing observed with expected MIR spectra directly (e.g., pregnancy). All of these traits can then be used to define best practices, adjust feeding and health management, improve animal welfare, improve milk quality, and mitigate environmental impact. Under the condition that MIR data are available on a large scale, phenotypes for these traits will allow genetic and genomic evaluations. Introduction of novel traits into the breeding objectives will need additional research to clarify socio-economic weights and genetic correlations with other traits of interest. [less ▲]

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See detailOn the use of novel milk phenotypes as predictors of difficult-to-record traits in breeding programs
Bastin, Catherine ULg; Colinet, Frédéric ULg; Dehareng, Frédéric et al

in Book of Abstracts of the 66th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2015, August)

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See detailOverview of possibilities and challenges of the use of infrared spectrometry in cattle breeding
Gengler, Nicolas ULg; Soyeurt, Hélène ULg; Dehareng, Frédéric et al

in Book of Abstracts of the 66th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2015, August)

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See detailGenetic correlations between methane production and milk fatty acid contents of Walloon Holstein cattle throughout the lactation
Vanrobays, Marie-Laure ULg; Vandenplas, Jérémie ULg; Bastin, Catherine ULg et al

Poster (2015, April 16)

Methane (CH4) from ruminal fermentation is the major greenhouse gas produced by dairy cattle which contributes largely to climate change. Production of CH4 also represents losses of gross energy intake ... [more ▼]

Methane (CH4) from ruminal fermentation is the major greenhouse gas produced by dairy cattle which contributes largely to climate change. Production of CH4 also represents losses of gross energy intake. Therefore, there is a growing interest in mitigating these emissions. Acetate and butyrate have common bio-chemical pathways with CH4. Because some milk fatty acids (FA) arise from acetate and butyrate, milk FA are often considered as potential predictors of CH4. However, relationships between these traits remain unclear. Moreover, the evolution of the phenotypic and genetic correlations of CH4 and milk FA across days in milk (DIM) has not been evaluated. The main goal of this study was to estimate genetic correlations between CH4 and milk FA contents throughout the lactation. Calibration equations predicting daily CH4 production (g/d) and milk FA contents (g/100 dL of milk) from milk mid-infrared (MIR) spectra were applied on MIR spectra related to Walloon milk recording. Data included 243,260 test-day records (between 5 and 365 DIM) from 33,850 first-parity Holstein cows collected in 630 herds. Pedigree included 109,975 animals. Bivariate (i.e., CH4 production and one of the FA traits) random regression test-day models were used to estimate genetic parameters of CH4 production and 7 groups of FA contents in milk. Saturated (SFA), short-chain (SCFA), and medium-chain FA (MCFA) showed positive averaged daily genetic correlations with CH4 production (from 0.25 to 0.29). Throughout the lactation, genetic correlations between SCFA and CH4 were low in the beginning of the lactation (0.11 at 5 DIM) and higher at the end of the lactation (0.54 at 365 DIM). Regarding SFA and MCFA, genetic correlations between these groups of FA and CH4 were more stable during the lactation with a slight increase (from 0.23 to 0.31 for SFA and from 0.23 to 0.29 for MCFA, at 5 and 365 DIM respectively). Furthermore, averaged daily genetic correlations between CH4 production and monounsaturated (MUFA), polyunsaturated (PUFA), unsaturated (UFA), and long-chain FA (LCFA) were low (from 0.00 to 0.15). However, these genetic correlations varied across DIM. Genetic correlations between CH4 and MUFA, PUFA, UFA, and LCFA were negative in early lactation (from -0.24 to -0.34 at 5 DIM) and increased afterward to become positive from 15 weeks till the end of the lactation (from 0.14 to 0.25 at 365 DIM). Finally, these results indicate that genetic and, therefore, phenotypic correlations between CH4 production and milk FA vary following lactation stage of the cow, a fact still often ignored when trying to predict CH4 production from FA composition. [less ▲]

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See detailGenetic correlations between methane production and milk fatty acid contents of Walloon Holstein cattle throughout the lactation
Vanrobays, Marie-Laure ULg; Vandenplas, Jérémie; Bastin, Catherine ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment [=BASE] (2015), 19(2), 117

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See detailAssessing resilience of dairy cattle by studying impact of heat stress on predicted feed intake
Vanrobays, Marie-Laure ULg; Hammami, Hedi ULg; Laine, Aurélie ULg et al

in Proceedings of the Third DairyCare Conference 2015 (2015)

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See detailPotential use of milk based biomarkers to assess and to select for heat tolerance in dairy cattle
Hammami, Hedi ULg; Vandenplas, Jérémie; Vanrobays, Marie-Laure ULg et al

in Proceedings of the second DairyCare Conference 2015 (2015)

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See detailGenetic analysis of heat stress effects on yield traits, udder health, and fatty acids of Walloon Holstein cows
Hammami, Hedi ULg; Vandenplas, Jérémie; Vanrobays, Marie-Laure ULg et al

in Journal of Dairy Science (2015), 98(7), 4956-4968

Genetic parameters that considered tolerance for heat stress were estimated for production, udder health, and milk composition traits. Data included 202,733 test-day records for milk, fat, and protein ... [more ▼]

Genetic parameters that considered tolerance for heat stress were estimated for production, udder health, and milk composition traits. Data included 202,733 test-day records for milk, fat, and protein yields, fat and protein percentages, somatic cell score (SCS), 10 individual milk fatty acids (FA) predicted by mid-infrared spectrometry, and 7 FA groups. Data were from 34,468 first-lactation Holstein cows in 862 herds in the Walloon region of Belgium and were collected between 2007 and 2010. Test-day records were merged with daily temperature-humidity index (THI) values based on meteorological records from public weather stations. The maximum distance between each farm and its corresponding weather station was 21km. Linear reaction norm models were used to estimate the intercept and slope responses of 23 traits to increasing THI values. Most yield and FA traits had phenotypic and genetic declines as THI increased, whereas SCS, C18:0, C18:1 cis-9, and 4 FA groups (unsaturated FA, monounsaturated FA, polyunsaturated FA, and long-chain FA) increased with THI. Moreover, the latter traits had the largest slope-to-intercept genetic variance ratios, which indicate that they are more affected by heat stress at high THI levels. Estimates of genetic correlations within trait between cold and hot environments were generally high (>0.80). However, lower estimates (< = 0.67) were found for SCS, fat yield, and C18:1 cis-9, indicating that animals with the highest genetic merit for those traits in cold environments do not necessarily have the highest genetic merit for the same traits in hot environments. Among all traits, C18:1 cis-9 was the most sensitive to heat stress. As this trait is known to reflect body reserve mobilization, using its variations under hot conditions could be a very affordable milk biomarker of heat stress for dairy cattle expressing the equilibrium between intake and mobilization under warm conditions. [less ▲]

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See detailShort communication: Novel method to predict body weight of primiparous dairy cows throughout the lactation
Vanrobays, Marie-Laure ULg; Vandenplas, Jérémie ULg; Hammami, Hedi ULg et al

in Journal of Dairy Science (2015), 98

Body weight (BW) of dairy cows can be estimated using linear conformation traits (calculated BW; CBW), which are generally recorded only once during a lactation. However, predicted BW (PBW) throughout the ... [more ▼]

Body weight (BW) of dairy cows can be estimated using linear conformation traits (calculated BW; CBW), which are generally recorded only once during a lactation. However, predicted BW (PBW) throughout the lactation would be useful, e.g., at milk-recording dates allowing feed-intake prediction for advisory purposes. Therefore, a 2-step approach was developed to obtain PBW for each milk-recording date. In the first step, a random-regression test-day model was used with CBW as observations to predict PBW. The second step consisted in changing means and (co)variances of prior distributions for the additive genetic random effects of the test-day model by using priors derived from results of the first step to predict again PBW. A total of 25,061 CBW from 24,919 primiparous Holstein cows were computed using equations from literature. Using CBW as observations, PBW was then predicted over the whole lactation for 232,436 dates corresponding to 207,375 milk-recording dates and 25,061 classification dates. Results showed that using both steps (the 2-step approach) provided more accurate predictions than using only the first step (the one-step approach). Based on the results of this preliminary study, BW of dairy cows could be predicted throughout the lactation using this procedure. These predictions could be useful in milk-recording systems to compute traits of interest (e.g., feed-intake prediction). The developed novel method is also flexible because actual direct measurements of BW can also be used together with CBW, the prediction model being able to accommodate different levels of accuracies of used BW phenotypes. [less ▲]

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See detailPrediction of Body Weight of Primiparous Dairy Cows Throughout Lactation
Vanrobays, Marie-Laure ULg; Vandenplas, Jérémie ULg; Hammami, Hedi ULg et al

in Proceedings of the 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (2014, August)

Body weight (BW) can be computed using linear conformation traits (CBW). However, these traits are recorded mostly once during a lactation. Therefore, predicted BW (PBW) is needed throughout the lactation ... [more ▼]

Body weight (BW) can be computed using linear conformation traits (CBW). However, these traits are recorded mostly once during a lactation. Therefore, predicted BW (PBW) is needed throughout the lactation (e.g., allowing feed intake prediction in milk recording systems). A two-step procedure was developed to obtain PBW using a random regression test-day model using CBW as observations. Added second step consisted in changing prior distribution for additive genetic random effects using results from first step to predict again PBW. This method was applied on 24,919 primiparous Holstein cows having 25,061 CBW to obtain PBW for 232,436 test-days. Results showed that applying both steps provided more accurate estimates than using only the first step. Furthermore, this procedure predicting PBW throughout lactation is also extremely flexible because actual BW can also be used together with CBW, the prediction model being able to accommodate different levels of accuracies. [less ▲]

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See detailStrategies to combine novel traits across countries: example of heat stress
Hammami, Hedi ULg; Vandenplas, Jérémie ULg; Carabaño, Maria Jesus et al

Conference (2014, May 21)

Nowadays, novel traits are of great interest. However, phenotypes are siloed and mainly not shared. Heat stress is becoming problematic affecting animals’ performances and their well-being. Heat stress ... [more ▼]

Nowadays, novel traits are of great interest. However, phenotypes are siloed and mainly not shared. Heat stress is becoming problematic affecting animals’ performances and their well-being. Heat stress tolerance as a novel trait is only addressed by isolated within-country research studies. Integration and combination of local and foreign information sources is needed for better accuracy genetic evaluations. Therefore, this study was aimed to test the potential combination of sources of external information towards the evaluation of heat stress tolerance of dairy cattle. Long-term cow performances linked to environmental descriptors (weather parameters as proxy to climate change) collected over 10 years under the temperate conditions of the Walloon Region of Belgium and the hotter and warm Mediterranean conditions of Andalusia and Castile-La-Mancha Spanish regions were available. A total of 1,604,775 milk, fat, and protein test-day (TD) records linked to average daily temperature humidity (THI) values for 3-day lag before each TD were considered. Under a first strategy considering free-access to raw-data (phenotype and pedigree), a joint evaluation was firstly run using reaction norm models where production traits were considered as function of THI. A Belgian and a Spanish evaluation were also run using the same model. An alternative strategy considering only access to external information (i.e. regression coefficients for additive genetic effects (â and their associated REL)) was tested. In this case, foreign â and their REL resulting from the Spanish evaluation were first converted to the Belgian trait and thereafter integrated in the Belgian evaluation using a Bayesian approach. Rank correlations between regression coefficients, â (of the 1,104 bulls having daughters only in Spain) estimated by Belgian evaluation and â estimated by the joint evaluation were moderate (<=0.70). Corresponding rank correlations between â estimated by joint and Bayesian evaluations were significantly higher (ranging from 0.967 to 0.998), indicating that the Bayesian evaluation integrating external information was in good concordance with the joint evaluation. Results from this study indicated that the integration of external information via the Bayesian approach has a good potential to improve the genetic evaluation of sparse and siloed novel traits. [less ▲]

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See detailNon-genetic sources of variation of milk production and reproduction and interactions between both classes of traits in Sicilo-Sarde dairy sheep.
Merai, A.; Gengler, Nicolas ULg; Hammami, Hedi ULg et al

in Animal (2014), 8(9), 1534-9

This work aimed to study the sources of variation in productive and reproductive traits of the dairy Sicilo-Sarde ewes and to further investigate the interaction between both classes of traits. After ... [more ▼]

This work aimed to study the sources of variation in productive and reproductive traits of the dairy Sicilo-Sarde ewes and to further investigate the interaction between both classes of traits. After edits, a database containing 5935 lactation records collected during 6 successive years in eight dairy flocks in the North of Tunisia was used. Total milked milk (TMM) in the milking-only period was retained as productive trait. The interval from the start of the mating period to the subsequent lambing (IML) and the lambing status (LS) were designed as reproductive traits. Sicilo-Sarde ewes had an average TMM of 60.93 l (+/-44.12) during 132.8 days (+/-46.6) after a suckling period of 100.4 days (+/-24.9). Average IML was 165.7 days. In a first step, the major factors influencing milk production and reproductive traits were determined. The significant sources of variation identified for TMM were: flock, month of lambing, year of lambing, parity, suckling length, litter size and milking-only length. Flockxmonth of the start of the mating period, parity, year of mating and litter size were identified as significant factors of variation for IML, while flockxmonth of the start of the mating period, parity and year of mating were identified as significant sources of variation for LS. In a second step, variance components were estimated using a three traits threshold mixed model, which combined LS as categorical trait and TMM and IML as continuous traits. Repeatability estimates were 0.21 (+/-0.03) for TMM, 0.09 (+/-0.02) for IML, and 0.10 (+/-0.05) for LS. Moreover, TMM and IML were found to be favorably associated for the flockx year of lambing effect (-0.45+/-0.18) but unfavorably associated for the animal effect (0.20+/-0.09). [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of Heat Stress on Production in Holstein Cattle in four EU Regions. Selection Tools
Carabaño, Maria-Jesus; Hammami, Hedi ULg; Logar, Betka et al

Conference (2014)

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See detailImpact of Heat Stress on Production in Holstein Cattle in four EU Regions. Selection Tools
Carabaño, Maria-Jesus; Hammami, Hedi ULg; Logar, Betka et al

Scientific conference (2014)

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