Skip to main content


Longitudinal random effects models for genetic analysis of binary data with application to mastitis in dairy cattle

Article metrics

  • 1788 Accesses

  • 12 Citations


A Bayesian analysis of longitudinal mastitis records obtained in the course of lactation was undertaken. Data were 3341 test-day binary records from 329 first lactation Holstein cows scored for mastitis at 14 and 30 days of lactation and every 30 days thereafter. First, the conditional probability of a sequence for a given cow was the product of the probabilities at each test-day. The probability of infection at time t for a cow was a normal integral, with its argument being a function of "fixed" and "random" effects and of time. Models for the latent normal variable included effects of: (1) year-month of test + a five-parameter linear regression function ("fixed", within age-season of calving) + genetic value of the cow + environmental effect peculiar to all records of the same cow + residual. (2) As in (1), but with five parameter random genetic regressions for each cow. (3) A hierarchical structure, where each of three parameters of the regression function for each cow followed a mixed effects linear model. Model 1 posterior mean of heritability was 0.05. Model 2 heritabilities were: 0.27, 0.05, 0.03 and 0.07 at days 14, 60, 120 and 305, respectively. Model 3 heritabilities were 0.57, 0.16, 0.06 and 0.18 at days 14, 60, 120 and 305, respectively. Bayes factors were: 0.011 (Model 1/Model 2), 0.017 (Model 1/Model 3) and 1.535 (Model 2/Model 3). The probability of mastitis for an "average" cow, using Model 2, was: 0.06, 0.05, 0.06 and 0.07 at days 14, 60, 120 and 305, respectively. Relaxing the conditional independence assumption via an autoregressive process (Model 2) improved the results slightly.

(To access the full article, please see PDF)

Author information

Correspondence to Romdhane Rekaya.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article


  • mastitis
  • longitudinal
  • threshold model