Repeatability and heritability of response to superovulation in Holstein cows
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The objective of this study was to estimate the relative effects of genetic and phenotypic factors on the efficacy and efficiency of superovulation for Holstein-Friesian cows reared in Brazil. A database, established by the Associacao Brasileira de Criadores de Bovinos da Raca Holandesa, consisting of a total of 5387 superovulations of 2941 cows distributed over 473 herds and sired by 690 bulls was used for the analysis. The records were analyzed by MTDFREML (Multiple Trait Derivative-Free Restricted Maximum Likelihood), using a repeatability animal model. The fixed effects included in the model were contemporaneous group (veterinarian, herd, year and season of the superovulation); number of semen doses; cow age; and superovulation order. The estimated repeatability of the number of the transferable embryos was low (0.13), and the estimated heritability was 0.03. These results indicate that environmental factors play a critical role in the response of a cow to a superovulation treatment. There is little evidence that future responses to superovulation by individual females can be predicted by previous treatment(s) or that superovulation response is an heritable trait.