Phenotypic and genetic effects of recessive haplotypes on yield, longevity, and fertility

J Dairy Sci. 2016 Sep;99(9):7274-7288. doi: 10.3168/jds.2015-10777. Epub 2016 Jul 7.


Phenotypes from the August 2015 US national genetic evaluation were used to compute phenotypic effects of 18 recessive haplotypes in Ayrshire (n=1), Brown Swiss (n=5), Holstein (n=10), and Jersey (n=2) cattle on milk, fat, and protein yields, somatic cell score (SCS), single-trait productive life (PL), daughter pregnancy rate (DPR), heifer conception rate (HCR), and cow conception rate (CCR). The haplotypes evaluated were Ayrshire haplotype 1, Brown Swiss haplotypes 1 and 2, spinal dysmyelination, spinal muscular atrophy, Weaver Syndrome, brachyspina, Holstein cholesterol deficiency, Holstein haplotypes 1 to 5, bovine leukocyte adhesion deficiency, complex vertebral malformation, mulefoot (syndactyly), and Jersey haplotypes 1 and 2. When causal variants are unknown and tests are based only on single nucleotide polymorphism haplotypes, it can sometimes be difficult to accurately determine carrier status. For example, 2 Holstein haplotypes for cholesterol deficiency have the same single nucleotide polymorphism genotype, but only one of them carries the causative mutation. Genotyped daughters of carrier bulls included in the analysis ranged from 8 for Weaver Syndrome to 17,869 for Holstein haplotype 3. Lactation records preadjusted for nongenetic factors and direct genomic values (DGV) were used to estimate phenotypic and genetic effects of recessive haplotypes, respectively. We found no phenotypic or genetic differences between carriers and noncarriers of Ayrshire or Brown Swiss defects. Several associations were noted for Holstein haplotypes, including fat and HCR for Holstein haplotype 0 carriers; milk, protein, SCS, PL, and fertility for Holstein haplotype 1; protein, PL, CCR, and HCR for Holstein haplotype 2; milk, protein, and fertility for Holstein haplotype 4; and protein yield and DPR for Holstein haplotype 5. There were no differences among bovine leukocyte adhesion deficiency carriers, but complex vertebral malformation affected fat yield and mulefoot carriers had higher SCS and lower PL DGV. Jersey haplotype 1 was not associated with any phenotypic effects, but we noted significant differences among DGV for fat, protein, PL, DPR, CCR, and HCR. Jersey haplotype 2 was associated only with lower phenotypic CCR. Effects of the recessive haplotypes on other traits studied generally were small even when significant. Almost $11 million of economic losses per year due to reduced fertility and perinatal calf death in the US population can be avoided by selecting mate pairs that will not produce affected embryos. Carrier animals may continue to be selected if the merit of their favorable alleles exceeds the loss from their recessive alleles, but carrier bulls can be generally avoided without reducing the average genetic merit of the sires available for mating.

Keywords: genomic evaluation; phenotypic effects; recessive disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol / deficiency
  • Dietary Fats / analysis
  • Female
  • Fertility / genetics*
  • Genomics
  • Genotyping Techniques
  • Haplotypes*
  • Lactation
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Milk Proteins / analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Reproduction / genetics


  • Dietary Fats
  • Milk Proteins
  • Cholesterol