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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Divergent genotypes for fatness or residual feed intake in Angus cattle. 2. Body composition but not reproduction was affected in first-parity cows on both low and high levels of nutrition

M. Laurence A B H , J. M. Accioly A C , K. J. Copping A D , M. P. B. Deland A D , J. F. Graham A E , M. L. Hebart A F , R. M. Herd A G , F. M. Jones A C , S. J. Lee A F , E. J. Speijers A C and W. S. Pitchford A F
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies.

B College of Veterinary Medicine, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

C WA Department of Agriculture and Food, Bunbury, WA 6230, Australia.

D South Australian Research and Development Institute, Struan Agricultural Centre, Naracoorte, SA 5271, Australia.

E Department of Primary Industries, Hamilton, Vic. 3300, Australia.

F School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus, SA 5371, Australia.

G NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

H Corresponding author. Email: M.Laurence@murdoch.edu.au

Animal Production Science 58(1) 43-54 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN13218
Submitted: 29 May 2013  Accepted: 24 October 2013   Published: 7 September 2016

Abstract

This paper reports a subset of results from the Beef Cooperative Research Centre-funded Maternal Productivity Project. This research aimed to describe the response of Angus cows of different and divergent genotypes to variable nutritional environments over five breeding seasons. Cows selected for a divergence in either fat depth (HFat vs LFat) or residual feed intake (RFI: HRFI vs LRFI) based on mid-parent estimated breeding values (EBV) for those traits were allocated in replicate groups to either high or low nutritional treatments at two different sites, namely the Vasse Research Centre in Western Australia and the Struan Research Centre in South Australia. The traits reported in this paper include output traits (birth and weaning weight of calves, liveweight change of cows), change traits (change in Rib Fat, P8 fat, eye muscle area and liveweight between specified time points) and reproductive traits [pregnancy rates, percentage calves born alive and days to calving at the days to calving at the second calving opportunity (DC2)]. Having had their first calf, the vulnerability of these young cows to nutritional restriction and how it may adversely affect rebreeding was examined. HFat and HRFI cows were fatter, heavier and had greater eye muscle area than LFat and LRFI, respectively, at all times during the breeding cycle on both levels of nutrition. There was no difference in either days-to-calving or pregnancy rates after the second mating between genotypes. Equally, nutritional treatment had no effect on these traits in this cohort of cows. There was evidence for an implied genetic correlation between Rib Fat EBV, DC2 and pregnancy rates of –0.38 that suggests that selection for leanness may result in reduced fertility of the herd but the effect was not significant herein. As long as producers record the phenotype for both traits and select cows with favourable DC2 as well as low fatness, these problems can be avoided, owing to only 22% of variation in pregnancy rates being explained by DC2 and Rib Fat EBV. Producers can largely be confident that selection for leanness, or increased feed efficiency, has little impact on productivity as long as cows are in adequate body condition to remain healthy and productive.


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