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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Divergent breeding values for fatness or residual feed intake in Angus cattle. 4. Fat EBVs’ influence on fatness fluctuation and supplementary feeding requirements

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

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

H Present address: PO Box 75 Gelorup, WA 6230, Australia.

I Present address: Walteela, Avenue Range, SA 5273, Australia.

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

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

L Corresponding author. Email: jeisane.alis@gmail.com

Animal Production Science 58(1) 67-79 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN14797
Submitted: 5 September 2014  Accepted: 15 July 2015   Published: 7 September 2016

Abstract

The productivity of 500 Angus cows, divergently selected for either rib fat or residual feed intake (RFI) based on BREEDPLAN estimated breeding values (EBVs) and managed under two levels of nutrition (stocking rates), was evaluated. The study examined the effects of genetic line, nutrition and weaning history on profiles for weight, rib fat depth, fatness (rib fat depth adjusted for weight) and supplementary feed requirements from just before the first joining as heifers through to the weaning of their third calf. Cows gained both weight and fat as they grew older. Observed fluctuations in weight and rib fat depth, within each year, were associated with pasture availability and physiological demands. Cows that did not wean a calf in a given year became heavier and fatter than cows that did; and they remained so when they calved the following year. High-fat and High-RFI were always fatter and lighter than Low-fat and Low-RFI cows, respectively. The difference in rib fat and fatness between High- and Low-RFI lines (P < 0.001) was similar to, although slightly greater than, the difference between High- and Low-fat lines (P = 0.048) reflecting differences in rib fat EBVs between High-RFI (3.2 ± 1.47) and Low-RFI (–0.7 ± 1.3) compared with High-fat (1.1 ± 0.78) and Low-fat (–1.4 ± 0.67). Cows on High-Nutrition were heavier and fatter than those on Low-Nutrition (P < 0.001) but there were no significant interactions between genetic line and nutrition (P > 0.05). Supplementary feeding threshold was reached earlier by Low-fat and Low-RFI cows than their counterparts. Calculations based on the data in the present paper estimate that if cows lose condition at a rapid rate (1 condition score/month), then a cow with an extra 1 mm rib fat EBV would take 7.5 days longer to reach the same supplementary feeding threshold. Fat EBVs can, therefore, be a useful tool in assisting beef producers to match genotype to their production system.

Additional keywords: body reserves, calving history, energetic efficiency, nutrition, supplementation.


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