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Modelling and estimation of genotype by environment interactions for production traits in French dairy cattle

Bérénice Huquet12, Hélène Leclerc2 and Vincent Ducrocq1*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UMR1313 Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, F-78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France

2 Institut de l’Elevage, 149 rue de Bercy, 75012 Paris, France

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Genetics Selection Evolution 2012, 44:35  doi:10.1186/1297-9686-44-35

Published: 26 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Genotype by environment interactions are currently ignored in national genetic evaluations of dairy cattle. However, this is often questioned, especially when environment or herd management is wide-ranging. The aim of this study was to assess genotype by environment interactions for production traits (milk, protein, fat yields and fat and protein contents) in French dairy cattle using an original approach to characterize the environments.

Methods

Genetic parameters of production traits were estimated for three breeds (Holstein, Normande and Montbéliarde) using multiple-trait and reaction norm models. Variables derived from Herd Test Day profiles obtained after a test day model evaluation were used to define herd environment.

Results

Multiple-trait and reaction norm models gave similar results. Genetic correlations were very close to unity for all traits, except between some extreme environments. However, a relatively wide range of heritabilities by trait and breed was found across environments. This was more the case for milk, protein and fat yields than for protein and fat contents.

Conclusions

No real reranking of animals was observed across environments. However, a significant scale effect exists: the more intensive the herd management for milk yield, the larger the heritability.