Select Mating Service (SMS)

Heritability of Traits

According to Holstein Association U.S.A. Inc., the degree to which a sire is able to genetically influence various characteristics in its offspring is measured by heritability. Faster genetic progress can be achieved for traits which are more highly heritable, but lower heritability traits of high economic importance also need to be stressed in a breeding program. Talking with your genetic consultant is the best way to provide a balanced breeding program.

SMS allows producers to capitalize on these traits and accomplish greater genetic advancement faster. The charts below indicate the amount of heritability associated with type, production and health and fitness traits:

Linear Type Traits Production Traits Health and Fitness Traits
Trait Heritability Trait Heritability Trait Heritability
Stature .42 Milk Yield* .30 Dry Matter Intake .30
Strength .31 Fat Yield* .30 Body Condition Score .25
Body Depth .37 Protein Yield* .30 Energy Balance .20
Dairy Form .29 Fat Percent .58 Persistency of Milk Yield .11
Rump Angle .33 Protein Percent .51 Days to First Breeding .04
Thurl Width .26 Lactose Percent .43 Number of Inseminations .02
Rear Legs - Side View .21 Age at First Calving .14 Incidence of Mastitis .06
Rear Legs - Rear View .11 First Calving Interval .05 Incidence of Ketosis .01
Foot Angle .15 Lifetime Milk Yield .15 Incidence of Retained Placenta .02
Feet and Legs Score .17 Lifetime Fat Yield .15 Incidence of Metritis .01
Rear Udder Height .28 Lifetime Protein Yield .14 Days to Last Breeding .06
Rear Udder Width .23 Days of Productive Life .13 Interval to First Luteal Activity .16
Udder Cleft .24 Somatic Cell Score .10    
Udder Depth .28 Lifetime Net Income .20    
Front Teat Placement .26 Productive Life, USDA .085    
Rear Teat Placement .32        
Teat Length .26        
Final Score .29 *Mature Equivalent      
Source: Holstein Association USA Source: Virginia Cooperative Extension Source: Virginia Cooperative Extension