Test-day milk yield as a selection criterion for dairy buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis Artiodactyla, Bovidae)
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Due to the great demand for buffalo milk by-products the interest in technical-scientific information about this species is increasing. Our objective was to propose selection criteria for milk yield in buffaloes based on total milk yield, 305-day milk yield (M305), and test-day milk yield. A total of 3,888 lactations from 1,630 Murrah (Bubalus bubalis) cows recorded between 1987 and 2001, from 10 herds in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, were analyzed. Covariance components were obtained using the restricted maximum likelihood method applied to a bivariate animal model. Additive genetic and permanent environmental effects were considered as random, and contemporary group and lactation order as fixed effects. The heritability estimates were 0.22 for total milk yield and 0.19 for M305. For test-day yields, the heritability estimates ranged from 0.12 to 0.30, with the highest values being observed up to the third test month, followed by a decline until the end of lactation. The present results show that test-day milk yield, mainly during the first six months of lactation, could be adopted as a selection criterion to increase total milk yield.