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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Divergent breeding values for fatness or residual feed intake in Angus cattle. 5. Cow genotype affects feed efficiency and maternal productivity

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

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies.

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

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

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

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

F School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, WA 6150, Australia.

G Department of Agriculture and Food, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.

H Present address: Walteela, Lucindale, SA 5272, Australia.

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

J Present address: Australian Pork Farms Group, Stirling, SA 5152, Australia.

K Present address: 11A Swanbourne Street, Fremantle, WA 6160, Australia.

L Corresponding author. Email: michelle.hebart@adelaide.edu.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN14034
Submitted: 22 January 2014  Accepted: 4 August 2014   Published online: 2 March 2016

Abstract

Cow bodyweight gain, calf weaning weight, feed intake and maternal productivity of 500 Angus cows, in 64 replicate groups, were measured over three parities at two locations (Struan and Vasse) as part of the Beef CRC Maternal Productivity Project. The cows were sourced as heifers from the top and bottom 10% of BREEDPLAN Rib Fat EBV (High-Fat and Low-Fat), and from High and Low residual feed intake (RFI) selection lines (High-RFI and Low-RFI). Each of the four genotypes were run under High- and Low-Nutrition (measured as feed on offer) at both sites. The High-Fat cows were 7% more efficient at producing weaner calves under Low-Nutrition than were the Low-Fat cows. This was driven primarily by the 4% difference between the lines in weaning rate. When weaning rate differences were accounted for (as covariate), there was no difference between the Fat lines in the efficiency of weaner weight production. When the weight gain of the cow was included as an output in addition to calf weaning weight, there was also no difference between the Fat lines in efficiency. Low-RFI cows were always more efficient at producing weaner calves than were the High-RFI cows. This was primarily driven through a 7% reduction in annual feed intake (across both nutrition treatments). However, the Low-RFI cows were leaner, had 6.3% lower weaning rate and calved on average 5.4 days later than did the High-RFI cows. Furthermore, the largest differences in feed intake were in spring when feed availability is greatest. In the context of the results herein, a balanced breeding program should include selection for improved reproduction and low RFI.

Additional keywords: beef cattle, EBV, reproduction, rib fat.


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