For establishing a total merit index after Hazel (1943) the relative economic weights of the traits considered in the aggregate genotype have to be known. The economic weight of carrier, fat and protein production for Estonian cattle population was calculated first in 1997 (Pärna and Saveli, 1997 ; Pärna and Saveli, 1998). Annual genetic response in milk carrier, fat and protein yield was estimated to be 57.4 kg, 1.98 and 1.67, respectively (Pärna and Meier, 2001). Since 1997 performance has risen by more than 1 000 kg, but fertility parameters and further functional traits have deteriorated. The population size has decreased by 6 %. Increasing input prices for agricultural enterprises were not balanced by output prices. Preparing the joining of Estonia to EU, we have to consider the impact of quota on economic weights. After Groen et al. (1996), under quota conditions and decreasing milk prices, functional traits like reproduction traits (which increase efficiency not by higher output of products but by reduced costs of input) might have a bigger impact on the profit of dairy farmers and should therefore be included in breeding programmes. Apart from economic reasons for including functional traits in the breeding programmes there are several non economical reasons, for example ethical reasons and consumer concern, which are becoming more and more important (Dempfle, 1992 ; Groen et al., 1996 ; Olesen et al., 1999). Including functional traits in breeding programmes will have a major impact on the expected selection response of functional traits and will result in only small losses of the expected selection response of production traits (Fewson and Niebel, 1986).

E. Parna, O. Saveli, T. Kaart

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 1, , 1.68, 2002
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