Short communication: Genetic relationship between calving traits and body condition score before and after calving in Canadian Ayrshire second-parity cows.
The objective of this study was to investigate the genetic relationship between body condition score (BCS) and calving traits (including calving ease and calf survival) for Ayrshire second-parity cows in Canada. The use of random regression models allowed assessment of the change of genetic correlation from 100 d before calving to 335 d after calving. Therefore, the influence of BCS in the dry period on subsequent calving could be studied. Body condition scores were collected by field staff several times over the lactation in 101 herds from Québec and calving records were extracted from the official database used for Canadian genetic evaluation of calving ease. Daily heritability of BCS increased from 0.07 on d 100 before calving to 0.25 at 335 d in milk. Genetic correlations between BCS at different stages ranged between 0.59 and 0.99 and indicated that genetic components for BCS did not change much over lactation. With the exception of the genetic correlation between BCS and direct calving ease, which was low and negative, genetic correlations between BCS and calving traits were positive and moderate to high. Correlations were the highest before calving and decreased toward the end of the ensuing lactation. The correlation between BCS 10 d before calving and maternal calving ease was 0.32 and emphasized the relationship between fat cows before calving with dystocia. Standards errors of the genetic correlations estimates were low. Genetic correlations between BCS and calf survival were moderate to high and favorable. This indicates that cows with a genetically high BCS across lactation would have a greater chance of producing a calf that survived (maternal calf survival) and that they would transmit genes that allow the calf to survive (direct calf survival).