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Meyerholz, M. M.; Rohmeier, L.; Eickhoff, T.; Huelsebusch, A.; Jander, S.; Linden, M.; Macias, L.; Koy, M.; Heimes, A.; Gorriz-Martin, L.; Segelke, D.; Engelmann, S.; Schmicke, M.; Hoedemaker, M.; Petzl, W.; Zerbe, H.; Schuberth, H-J and Kühn, Ch (2019): Genetic selection for bovine chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with divergent somatic cell score affects postpartum reproductive and metabolic performance. In: Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 102, No. 11: pp. 9983-9994

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The susceptibility of animals to periparturient diseases has a great effect on the economic efficiency of dairy industries, on the frequency of antibiotic treatment, and on animal welfare. The use of selection for breeding cows with reduced susceptibility to diseases offers a sustainable tool to improve dairy cattle farming. Several studies have focused on the association of distinct bovine chromosome 18 genotypes or haplotypes with performance traits. The aim of this study was to test whether selection of Holstein Friesian heifers via SNP genotyping for alternative paternal chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with favorable (Q) or unfavorable (q) somatic cell scores influences postpartum reproductive and metabolic diseases. Thirty-six heifers (18 Q and 18 q) were monitored from 3 wk before calving until necropsy on d 39 (+/- 4 d) after calving. Health status and rectal temperature were measured daily, arid body condition score and body weight were assessed once per week. Blood samples were drawn twice weekly, and levels of insulin, nonesterified fatty acids, insulin-like growth factor-I, growth hormone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate were measured. Comparisons between the groups were performed using Fisher's exact test, chi-squared test, and the GLIMMIX procedure in SAS. Results showed that Q-heifers had reduced incidence of rnetritis compared with q-heifers and were less likely to develop fever. Serum concentrations of beta-hydroxybutyrate were lower and insulin-like growth factor-I plasma concentrations were higher in Q- compared with q-heifers. However, the body condition score and withers height were comparable between haplotypes, but weight loss tended to be lower in Q-heifers compared with q-heifers. No differences between the groups were detected concerning retained fetal membranes, uterine involution, or onset of cyclicity. In conclusion, selection of chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with a reduced somatic cell score resulted in a decreased incidence of postpartum reproductive and metabolic diseases in this study. The presented data add to the existing knowledge aimed at avoiding negative consequences of genetic selection strategies in dairy cattle farming. The underlying causal mechanisms modulated by haplotypes in the targeted genomic region and immune competence necessitate further investigation.

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