Estimation of Genetic Parameters of Some Productive and Reproductive Traits in Italian Buffalo. Genetic Evaluation with BLUP-Animal Model

  • Catillo, G. (Istituto Sperimentale per la Zootecnia) ;
  • Moioli, B. (Istituto Sperimentale per la Zootecnia) ;
  • Napolitano, F. (Istituto Sperimentale per la Zootecnia)
  • Received : 2000.09.06
  • Accepted : 2001.02.02
  • Published : 2001.06.01


In this study, the Italian milk recorded buffalo population from 1974 to 1996 was analysed with the purpose to estimate genetic and environmental variability and provide genetic parameters for the most important economic traits. High variability between herds was evident due to the poor knowledge of feeding requirements and husbandry technology in this species compared to cattle. Age at first calving was reduced by 57 days during the considered years following efforts made in better feeding and management from 1990; on the contrary, calving interval has increased by 17 days as a consequence of forcing buffaloes to calve in spring, in order to have the peak milk yield when milk is much better paid. Average milk yield increased by 1853 kg during these years, while lactation duration was reduced by 30 days. Season of calving has no effect on all traits. Calving order has a positive effect on milk yield especially because older cows produce more milk in shorter lactations. Heritability for the age at first calving and calving interval was 0.26 and 0.05 respectively. Heritability of productive traits, milk yield and duration of the lactation was 0.19 and 0.13 respectively, with repeatabilities of 0.40 and 0.26. Genetic trend for milk yield was 2.1 kg milk/year for the bulls and 1 kg for all population. The high genetic variability of milk production as well as duration of the lactation, indicates that there are good opportunities for genetic improvement when including these traits in a selection scheme. The low genetic trend registered over 15 years of recording activity can be explained by the fact that neither progeny testing was performed or selection schemes were implemented, due to the difficulties to use artificial insemination in buffalo.

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