Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Maternal body composition in seedstock herds. 4. Genetic parameters for body composition of Angus and Hereford cows

K. A. Donoghue A B F , S. J. Lee A C , P. F. Parnell A D E and W. S. Pitchford A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies.

B NSW Department of Primary Industries, Trangie Agricultural Research Centre, NSW 2823, Australia.

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

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

E Present address: Angus Australia, 86 Glen Innes Road, Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: kath.donoghue@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN13258
Submitted: 20 June 2013  Accepted: 10 February 2014   Published online: 6 December 2016

Abstract

The genetics of body composition traits measured before calving and at weaning in the first and second parities were evaluated in 5975 Angus and 1785 Hereford cows. Traits measured were liveweight, body condition score and hip height and ultrasound scanned measurements of subcutaneous P8 and 12/13th rib fat depth, loin eye muscle area and intramuscular fat percentage. Corresponding yearling measures on these animals were obtained for analyses of relationships between yearling information with later-in-life traits. There was moderate genetic variation in all body composition traits measured at pre-calving and weaning in Angus (h2 = 0.14–0.59) and Hereford (h2 = 0.14–0.64) cows. Genetic correlations between measurements of the same trait at pre-calving and weaning were consistently positive and high in both parities for both breeds, indicating animals were ranking similarly for the same trait measured over time. Genetic correlations between measurements of different traits were generally consistent over time (pre-calving and weaning) in both breeds, indicating genetic relationships between traits were not changing significantly over time. Genetic correlations with corresponding yearling measures of body composition were consistently positive and high for the first parity, and lower for the second parity. The results of this study indicate that genetic improvement in body composition traits in cows is possible, and that body composition information recorded at yearling age is a reasonably good predictor of later in life performance for these traits.


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