International Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics

International Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics ISSN 6790-4823 Vol. 6 (3), pp. 001-009, October, 2017. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper                                                      

Negative genetic trends in milk production traits in the central tropical highlands of Ethiopia

*Teferra E. Paulos, Wilfred Mideksa and Mesfin Senait

Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Holetta Agricultural Research Center, P. O. Box 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

*Corresponding author. E-mail:

Accepted 14 September, 2016


A total of 1979 lactation records from 550 selected crossbred dairy cows that born between 1974 and 2005 were used to estimate annual genetic and environmental trends in milk production and reproduction traits at Holetta Agricultural Research Center, Ethiopia. Annual genetic and environmental trends were estimated by regressing BLUP estimated breeding value on year of birth. Variance components and genetic parameters were estimated using univariate analysis of individual animal model based on restricted maximum likelihood procedures. Annual genetic trends were -3.384 days, - 8.00 kg and -5.96 kg, -0.26 months, -0.29 months and -0.88 days, for lactation length (LL), lactation milk yield (LMY), adjusted 305 milk yield (305-days MY), age at puberty (APU), age at first calving (AFC) and calving interval (CI), respectively. Environmental trends for LMY was positive (6.717 kg) and was in the desired direction. Heritability estimates were 0.14, 0.44, 0.39, 0.38, 0.40 and 0.17 for LL, LMY, 305-d MY, APU, AFC and CI, respectively. Negative genetic trends in all milk production traits reflect ineffective selection program and/or lack of using sires that have positive breeding values. The result from the environmental trends shows substantial improvement in the management practices over time. Contrasting directions in genetic and environmental trends reflect ineffective breeding objectives. This warrants reconsideration of the existing breeding program in the country.

Key words: Genetic trends, environmental trends, genetic parameters, breeding objectives, variance components.