Genetic parameters of differential somatic cell count, milk composition, and cheese-making traits measured and predicted using spectral data in Holstein cows

S. Pegolo, L. F.M. Mota, V. Bisutti, M. Martinez-Castillero, D. Giannuzzi, L. Gallo, S. Schiavon, F. Tagliapietra, A. Revello Chion, Erminio Trevisi, Riccardo Negrini, Paolo Ajmone Marsan, A. Cecchinato

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review


Mastitis is one of the most prevalent diseases in dairy cattle and is the cause of considerable economic losses. Alongside somatic cell count (SCC), differential somatic cell count (DSCC) has been recently introduced as a new indicator of intramammary infection. The DSCC is expressed as a count or a proportion (%) of polymorphonuclear neutrophils plus lymphocytes (PMN-LYM) in milk somatic cells. These numbers are complemented to total somatic cell count or to 100 by macrophages (MAC). The aim of this study was to investigate the genetic variation and heritability of DSCC, and its correlation with milk composition, udder health indicators, milk composition, and technological traits in Holstein cattle. Data used in the analysis consisted in single test-day records from 2,488 Holstein cows reared in 36 herds located in northern Italy. Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was used to predict missing information for some milk coagulation and cheese-making traits, to increase sample size and improve estimation of the genetic parameters. Bayesian animal models were implemented via Gibbs sampling. Marginal posterior means of the heritability estimates were 0.13 for somatic cell score (SCS); 0.11 for DSCC, MAC proportion, and MAC count; and 0.10 for PMN-LYM count. Posterior means of additive genetic correlations between SCS and milk composition and udder health were low to moderate and unfavorable. All the relevant genetic correlations between the SCC traits considered and the milk traits (composition, coagulation, cheese yield and nutrients recovery) were unfavorable. The SCS showed genetic correlations of −0.30 with the milk protein proportion, −0.56 with the lactose proportion and −0.52 with the casein index. In the case of milk technological traits, SCS showed genetic correlations of 0.38 with curd firming rate (k20), 0.45 with rennet coagulation time estimated using the curd firming over time equation (RCTeq), −0.39 with asymptotic potential curd firmness, −0.26 with maximum curd firmness (CFmax), and of −0.31 with protein recovery in the curd. Differential somatic cell count expressed as proportion was correlated with SCS (0.60) but had only 2 moderate genetic correlations with milk traits: with lactose (−0.32) and CFmax (−0.33). The SCS was highly correlated with the log PMN-LYM count (0.79) and with the log MAC count (0.69). The 2 latter traits were correlated with several milk traits: fat (−0.38 and −0.43 with PMN-LYM and MAC counts, respectively), lactose percentage (−0.40 and −0.46), RCTeq (0.53 and 0.41), tmax (0.38 and 0.48). Log MAC count was correlated with k20 (+0.34), and log PMN-LYM count was correlated with CFmax (−0.26) and weight of water curd as percentage of weight of milk processed (−0.26). The results obtained offer new insights into the relationships between the indicators of udder health and the milk technological traits in Holstein cows.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)10934-10949
Numero di pagine16
RivistaJournal of Dairy Science
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • Holstein
  • cheese making
  • differential somatic cells
  • udder health


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