A Robustness Index was derived for UK dairy cattle by re-appraising the economic weight for lifespan and the addition of fertility to the current index, which contains production, lifespan and health traits. The prediction of lifespan for the index was enhanced with the addition of daily breeding values for body condition score and growth rate in first lactation as index traits. The relative emphasis on production dropped from 77% in the current index to 65% in the Robustness index. There was little impact on the sire rankings with a rank correlation of 0.98 between the current index and the Robustness Index. Selecting on production alone resulted in an annual economic response of 10.71 (Euro15.67) whereas selecting on the Robustness Index had an economic response of 12.22 (Euro17.88). This extra profit is achieved even with a reduction in production traits due to an improvement in lifespan and a decrease in the genetic decline of health and fertility.

E. Wall, S. Brotherstone, Mike P Coffey

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume , , 01.10, 2006
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