Additive and nonadditive genetic variances for milk yield, fertility, and lifetime performance traits of dairy cattle

J Dairy Sci. 1994 Apr;77(4):1114-25. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(94)77047-8.


Additive and nonadditive genetic variances were estimated for yield traits and fertility for three subsequent lactations and for lifetime performance traits of purebred and crossbred dairy cattle populations. Traits were milk yield, energy-corrected milk yield, fat percentage, protein percentage, calving interval, length of productive life, and lifetime FCM of purebred Simmental, Simmental including crossbreds, and Braunvieh crossed with Brown Swiss. Data files ranged from 66,740 to 375,093 records. An approach based on pedigree information for sire and maternal grandsire was used and included additive, dominance, and additive by additive genetic effects. Variances were estimated using the tildehat approximation to REML. Heritability estimated without nonadditive effects in the model was overestimated, particularly in presence of additive by additive variance. Dominance variance was important for most traits; for the lifetime performance traits, dominance was clearly higher than additive variance. Additive by additive variance was very high for milk yield and energy-corrected milk yield, especially for data including crossbreds. Effect of inbreeding was low in most cases. Inclusion of nonadditive effects in genetic evaluation models might improve estimation of additive effects and may require consideration for dairy cattle breeding programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Female
  • Fertility / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Lactation / genetics*
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Longevity / genetics
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk Proteins / analysis
  • Models, Genetic


  • Lipids
  • Milk Proteins