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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Divergent genotypes for fatness or residual feed intake in Angus cattle. 3. Performance of mature cows

K. J. Copping A B H K , J. M. Accioly A C , M. P. B. Deland A B I , N. J. Edwards A B , J. F. Graham A E J , M. L. Hebart A F , R. M. Herd A G , F. M. Jones A C , M. Laurence A D , 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 South Australian Research and Development Institute, Struan Agricultural Centre, Naracoorte, SA 5271, Australia.

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

D Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6250, 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 Beef Industry Centre, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

H Present address: ‘Walteela’, Avenue Range, SA 5273, Australia.

I Present address: Fifth Avenue, Naracoorte, SA 5271, Australia.

J Present address: 102 Kent Road, Hamilton, Vic. 3300, Australia.

K Corresponding author. Email: walteela@activ8.net.au

Animal Production Science 58(1) 55-66 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN13295
Submitted: 12 July 2013  Accepted: 8 November 2013   Published: 7 September 2016

Abstract

This experiment evaluated the productivity of 500 Angus cows that differed in genetic merit for either subcutaneous rib fat depth (Fat) or residual feed intake (RFI) based on estimated breeding values (EBVs) and managed under two levels of nutrition. Reproductive rate over four calving opportunities in mature cows and growth performance of progeny to weaning was assessed. Level of nutrition significantly affected all body composition traits for both Fat and RFI line cows. Cows on High-Nutrition were 14–16% heavier (P < 0.001) than those on Low-Nutrition. Differences in EBVs for fatness were reflected in phenotypic fatness at maturity. High-RFI line cows were fatter for both scanned rump (P8) and rib (RIB) fat depth relative to their Low-RFI contemporaries. Of those cows that were lactating, there was no significant effect of line or nutrition on pregnancy rate or days to calving (DC). There was, however, a trend (P < 0.1) in the Low-Fat line cows towards longer DC compared with the High-Fat line cows. There was no significant effect of either line or nutrition on calf birthweight. Calves with mothers on High-Nutrition were 8% heavier at weaning (P < 0.001) than those on Low-Nutrition. Lower EBVs for RFI was associated with higher 200-day growth EBV and heavier calves at weaning. Current carcass BREEDPLAN EBVs can be used to select for changes in cow body composition if desired. In this experiment, Angus cows selected for lower RFI or with below-average fatness EBV and had raised a calf at every previous opportunity were not compromised in pregnancy rate or DC at maturity under varying nutrition such as can be experienced during normal seasonal conditions in southern Australia. However, selection for lower RFI was associated with lower weaning rate (P < 0.05), which warrants further investigation to confidently predict the implications for commercial cattle production.


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