Genetic parameters for health traits using farmer recorded data in the Netherlands and Flanders


  • Jorien Vosman CRV
  • Mathijs van Pelt CRV
  • Gerben de Jong CRV


health traits, farmer recorded data, genetics


Animal health is important in dairy farming, from an economical and animal welfare point of view. In the Netherlands and Flanders breeding values of health traits (udder health, claw health and ketosis) are available, and enables selection for healthier cows. Data is not routinely recorded for all health traits. Farmer recorded data gives the opportunity to develop breeding values for new health traits. The first focus is on reproduction traits and metabolic disorders. The data set for reproduction disorders consisted of  ~185,000 observations on ~135,000 cows, and for metabolic disorders ~20,000 observations on ~15,000 cows were available. Genetic parameters were estimated with a linear multi-trait sire model. Five different reproduction disorders were analyzed: retained placenta, endometritis, metritis, cystic ovaries, anoestrum. Incidences of the reproductive disorders ranged from 6 to 11%. Heritabilities for lactation 1 ranged from 0.008 to 0.043, and for lactation 2 and higher heritabilites ranged from 0.011 to 0.020. For metabolic disorders 2 different traits were analyzed: milk fever and clinical ketosis. The incidence for milk fever was 33% and for clinical ketosis the incidence was 14%, both for older cows. The heritability was 0.024 for milk fever and 0.023 for clinical ketosis. Considering the heritability and the genetic standard deviation it is possible to use farmer recorded data to develop breeding values for reproduction and metabolic disorders.


Author Biographies

Jorien Vosman, CRV

Animal Evaluation Unit

Mathijs van Pelt, CRV

Animal Evaluation Unit

Gerben de Jong, CRV

Animal Evaluation Unit