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

Genetic correlation between growth and reproductive performance of beef females depends on environment

Mário L. Santana Jr A D , Joanir P. Eler B , Annaiza B. Bignardi A , Arione A. Boligon C and José B. S. Ferraz B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Grupo de Melhoramento Animal de Mato Grosso (GMAT), Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Tecnológicas, Campus Universitário de Rondonópolis, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, MT-270, Km 06, CEP 78735-901, Rondonópolis, MT, Brazil.

B Grupo de Melhoramento Animal e Biotecnologia (GMAB), Departamento de Medicina Veterinária, Faculdade de Zootecnia e Engenharia de Alimentos, Universidade de São Paulo, 13635-970, Pirassununga, SP, Brazil.

C Departamento de Zootecnia, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Campus Capão do Leão, CEP 96010-900, Pelotas, RS, Brazil.

D Corresponding author. Email: 10mario@gmail.com

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN16108
Submitted: 20 February 2016  Accepted: 24 November 2016   Published online: 28 February 2017

Abstract

In tropical production systems, beef cattle are raised in highly heterogeneous environments. Heterogeneity is, therefore, expected to exist in the (co)variance components for traits of economic interest in different production environments. The main objective of the present study was to estimate genetic correlations between growth traits and reproductive performance of beef females, depending on the environment. The present study was conducted in the tropical region of Brazil, applying a multiple-trait random regression animal model to field records of heifer pregnancy (HP), hip height, bodyweight at ~18 months of age (BW18) and postweaning weight gain (PWG) from 20 893 Nelore females. As evidence of genotype by environment interaction (G × E), heterogeneity of genetic variance across environments was observed mainly for HP, PWG and BW18. Moreover, the estimates of genetic correlation within these traits reached values lower than unity on the environmental gradient. The genetic correlation among growth traits tended to be stronger in favourable environments, a fact that should favour correlated responses under these conditions. In contrast, the genetic correlations between growth traits and HP tended to become weaker and even exhibited little evidence of antagonism in more favourable environments. On the basis of these findings, selection for higher growth in extreme favourable environments should result in little or no damage to HP as a correlated response. All these results lead us to believe that the G × E is an important factor to be considered in genetic evaluations of beef cattle raised in tropical environments.

Additional keywords: genetic antagonism, genotype by environment interaction, principal components, random regression, reaction norm, zebu.


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