The objective of this study was to evaluate effects of genotype environmental interaction (GxE) on dairy traits among herds in Canada that practice intensive rotational grazing versus conventional methods that rely on stored feeds. Based on responses to questionnaires, 22 herds were selected for the grazing group and the conventional group consisted of 34 large freestall dairies. Production data consisted of 6749 lactations of 2817 cows in the grazing herds and 29,371 lactations of 12,774 cows in the control herds. Subsets of data for reproduction and conformation also were created. Per cow production was greater in the conventionally managed herds (9947 kg of milk) than in the grazing herds (9400 kg). Phenotypic data were regressed on sire predicted transmitting abilities (PTA) and genetic correlations for all traits were estimated between environments. A scaling effect was observed across environments for yield traits, as phenotypic differences among cows were greater than predicted by sire PTA in conventional herds and consistent with sire PTA in grazing herds. Heritabilities for yield also were greater in conventional herds. Other effects of GxE were minor, with genetic correlations of near 0.90 or greater for all traits. Among yield traits, genetic correlation was lowest for fat (0.88 with SE = 0.04). These results demonstrate that effects of GxE are small between the two types of management systems analyzed and that graziers can accurately select sires based on national rankings.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in part by a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program of the USDA. In addition, authors would like to thank the farmers that participated in the study and the Canadian Dairy Network of Guelph, Ontario for providing the data.
- Sire evaluation