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

Genetic parameters for calf mortality and correlated cow and calf traits in tropically adapted beef breeds managed in extensive Australian production systems

Kim L. Bunter A B C and David J. Johnston A B

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

B Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit1, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: kbunter2@une.edu.au

Animal Production Science 54(1) 50-59 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AN12422
Submitted: 10 December 2012  Accepted: 24 May 2013   Published: 20 August 2013

Abstract

The genetic associations between cow teat and udder traits with maternal contributions to calf mortality were studied in Brahman (BRAH) and Tropical Composite (TCOMP) cattle managed in extensive production systems of northern Australia. Data from 9286 purebred and crossbred calves, progeny of 2076 cows and 149 sires, were recorded from 2003 to 2011. Calf weights at birth (BWT) and weaning (WWT) were routinely recorded. The event of calf death before weaning (DWEAN) was analysed as a repeated-measure of the cow. Cows were also scored at each calving for front- and back-teat size and udder size (US) on an ascending five-point scale. Heritabilities for front-teat size, back-teat size and US were 0.38 ± 0.05, 0.31 ± 0.05 and 0.49 ± 0.01, and estimates were the same for BRAH and TCOMP. The heritability of DWEAN was higher in BRAH (0.09 ± 0.02) than in TCOMP (0.02 ± 0.01). Variance ratios for maternal genetic effects contributing to variation in BWT and WWT were 0.13 ± 0.02 and 0.18 ± 0.05, and tended to be larger in TCOMP than in BRAH. Teat and udder scores were moderately correlated phenotypically (0.37 ± 0.01) and genetically (0.53 ± 0.04) with each other. Both traits were uncorrelated genetically with calf birthweight but positively correlated with WWT and DWEAN. The genetic correlation between average teat score at calving and DWEAN was larger (0.54 ± 0.05) than that between US and DWEAN (0.33 ± 0.06), whereas the genetic correlation between US and maternal effects for WWT was larger (0.60 ± 0.08) than the corresponding value for average teat score with maternal WWT (0.37 ± 0.13). Correlations between BWT and WWT were high for both direct (0.63 ± 0.07) and maternal (0.50 ± 0.09) genetic effects. Genetic correlations between maternal effects for BWT or WWT with DWEAN were both negative (–0.23 ± 0.10 and –0.21 ± 0.04), while the correlation between BWT and WWT for maternal effects was positive (0.54 ± 0.09), showing that larger calves at birth are less likely to die before weaning and have heavier weaning weights from maternal genetic contributions to these traits. Selection on maternal components of BWT and WWT should be accompanied by recording for teat and udder characteristics to assist in preventing any undesired correlated response in teat or udder size, which can have detrimental outcomes for calf survival, despite expectations of higher milk yield.

Additional keywords: beef cattle, Bos indicus, Brahman, correlation, heritability, teat, udder.


References

ABARE (2004) ‘Australian beef industry: productivity and financial performance.’ (Meat & Livestock Australia: Canberra)

Akaike H (1974) A new look at the statistical model identification. IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control 19, 716–723.
A new look at the statistical model identification.CrossRef | open url image1

Anon. (2000) ‘Comparison of eight sire breeds over Brahman cows.’ Available at http:///www.limousin.com.au/Technical/comparison8breeds.html [Accessed 24 May 2012]

Barwick S, Johnston D, Burrow H, Holroyd R, Fordyce G, Wolcott M, Sim W, Sullivan M (2009) Genetics of heifer performance in ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ seasons and their relationships with steer performance in two tropical beef genotypes. Animal Production Science 49, 367–382.
Genetics of heifer performance in ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ seasons and their relationships with steer performance in two tropical beef genotypes.CrossRef | open url image1

Bellows RA (1997) ‘Factors affecting calf survival, range beef cow symposium.’ (University of Nebraska: Lincoln, NE)

Boettcher PJ, Dekkers JCM, Kolstad BW (1998) Development of an udder health index for sire selection based on somatic cell score, udder conformation and milking speed. Journal of Dairy Science 81, 1157–1168.
Development of an udder health index for sire selection based on somatic cell score, udder conformation and milking speed.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaK1cXivFOrtrg%3D&md5=edc53eacd374e597d3051f7482034e82CAS | 9594405PubMed | open url image1

Bunter KL, Johnston DJ, Wolcott ML, Fordyce G (2014) Factors associated with calf mortality in tropically adapted beef breeds managed in extensive Australian production systems. Animal Production Science 54, 25–36.
Factors associated with calf mortality in tropically adapted beef breeds managed in extensive Australian production systems.CrossRef | open url image1

Burrow HM, Prayaga KC (2004) Correlated responses in productive and adaptive traits and temperament following selection for growth and heat resistance in tropical beef cattle. Livestock Production Science 86, 143–161.
Correlated responses in productive and adaptive traits and temperament following selection for growth and heat resistance in tropical beef cattle.CrossRef | open url image1

Burrow HM, Johnston DJ, Barwick SA, Holroyd RG, Barendse W, Thompson JM, Griffith GR, Sullivan MT (2003) Relationships between carcass and beef quality and components of herd profitability in northern Australia. In ‘Proceedings of the 15th conference: 50 years of DNA, Vol. 15, Melbourne, Australia’. (Ed. A Henderson) pp. 359–362. (Association for the Advancement of Animal Breeding and Genetics: Melbourne)

Cundiff LV, MacNeil MD, Gregory KE, Koch RM (1986) Between- and within-breed genetic analysis of calving traits and survival to weaning in beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science 63, 27–33.

Davis GP (1993) Genetic parameters for tropical beef cattle in Northern Australia: a review. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 44, 179–198.
Genetic parameters for tropical beef cattle in Northern Australia: a review.CrossRef | open url image1

Dearborn DD, Koch RM, Cundiff LV, Gregory KE, Dickerson GE (1973) An analysis of reproductive traits in beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science 36, 1032–1040.

Deng MP, Badri TM, Atta M, Hamad ME (2012) Relationship between udder dimensions and milk yield of Kenana × Friesian crossbred cows. Research Opinions in Animal and Veterinary Sciences 2, 49–54.

Echternkamp SE, Thallman RM, Cushman RA, Allan MF, Gregory KE (2007) Increased calf production in cattle selected for twin ovulations. Journal of Animal Science 85, 3239–3248.
Increased calf production in cattle selected for twin ovulations.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2sXhtl2ru7nL&md5=8d9a58134a44e16476c4fe292727f9aeCAS | 17686895PubMed | open url image1

Edwards SA, Broom DM (1982) Behavioural interactions of dairy cows with their newborn calves and the effects of parity. Animal Behaviour 30, 525–535.
Behavioural interactions of dairy cows with their newborn calves and the effects of parity.CrossRef | open url image1

Ellis GJ, Cartweight TC, Kruse WE (1965) Heterosis for birth weight in Brahman–Hereford crosses. Journal of Animal Science 24, 93–96.

Frisch J (1982) The use of teat-size measurements or calf weaning weight as an aid to selection against teat defects in cattle. Animal Production 35, 127–133.
The use of teat-size measurements or calf weaning weight as an aid to selection against teat defects in cattle.CrossRef | open url image1

Gilmour AR, Gogel BJ, Cullis BR, Thompson R (2006) ‘ASREML user guide release 2.0.’ (VSN International: Hemel Hempsted, UK)

Guerra JLL, Franke DE, Blouin DC (2006) Genetic parameters for calving rate and calf survival from linear, threshold and logistic models in a multibreed beef cattle population. Journal of Animal Science 84, 3197–3203.
Genetic parameters for calving rate and calf survival from linear, threshold and logistic models in a multibreed beef cattle population.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD28Xht1CnurjP&md5=e3b8c8eaadcbd03e3d0c315efe814822CAS | open url image1

Holland MD, Odde KD (1992) Factors affecting calf birth weight: a review. Theriogenology 38, 769–798.
Factors affecting calf birth weight: a review.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BD283pvF2nsw%3D%3D&md5=b08f037aeb67068476dbdb9df0ab10d9CAS | 16727179PubMed | open url image1

Holroyd RG (1987) Foetal and calf wastage in Bos indicus cross beef genotypes. Australian Veterinary Journal 64, 133–137.
Foetal and calf wastage in Bos indicus cross beef genotypes.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DyaL2szis1SgsQ%3D%3D&md5=94faf6594e30decf2ded1cee9c6a75d5CAS | 3632488PubMed | open url image1

Hutchinson L, Fordyce G, Williams P, Grant T (2011) ‘Brahman teat and udder score changes during lactation, northern beef research update conference, Holiday Inn Esplanade, Darwin, NT, Australia.’ (North Australia Beef Research Council)

Johnston DJ, Barwick SA, Fordyce G, Holroyd RG, Williams PJ, Corbet NJ (2014) Genetics of early and lifetime annual reproductive performance in cows of two tropical beef genotypes in northern Australia. Animal Production Science 54, 1–15.
Genetics of early and lifetime annual reproductive performance in cows of two tropical beef genotypes in northern Australia.CrossRef | open url image1

Koots KR, Gibson JP, Smith C, Wilton JW (1994) Analyses of published genetic parameter estimates for beef production traits. 1. Heritability. Animal Breeding Abstracts 62, 309–338.

MacNeil MD, Mott TB (2006) Genetic analysis of gain from birth to weaning, milk production, and udder conformation in Line 1 Hereford cattle. Journal of Animal Science 84, 1639–1645.
Genetic analysis of gain from birth to weaning, milk production, and udder conformation in Line 1 Hereford cattle.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD28Xmt1aqsbo%3D&md5=1a58974f6224694448e274780705e34dCAS | 16775046PubMed | open url image1

Meyer K (1992a) Bias and sampling covariances of estimates of variance components due to maternal effects. Genetics, Selection, Evolution. 24, 487–509.
Bias and sampling covariances of estimates of variance components due to maternal effects.CrossRef | open url image1

Meyer K (1992b) Variance components due to direct and maternal effects for growth traits of Australian beef cattle. Livestock Production Science 31, 179–204.
Variance components due to direct and maternal effects for growth traits of Australian beef cattle.CrossRef | open url image1

Prayaga KC (2004) Evaluation of beef cattle genotypes and estimation of direct and maternal genetic effects in a tropical environment. 3. Fertility and calf survival rates. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 55, 811–824.
Evaluation of beef cattle genotypes and estimation of direct and maternal genetic effects in a tropical environment. 3. Fertility and calf survival rates.CrossRef | open url image1

Reynolds WL, DeRouen TM, Moin S, Koonce KL (1980) Factors influencing gestation length, birth weight and calf survival of Angus, Zebu and Zebu cross beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science 51, 860–867.

Seykora AJ, McDaniel BT (1985) Udder and teat morphology related to mastitus resistance: a review. Journal of Dairy Science 68, 2087–2093.
Udder and teat morphology related to mastitus resistance: a review.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DyaL28%2FgvFWlsw%3D%3D&md5=e4984843a6c199c3dcb3d13644363b6bCAS | 4044973PubMed | open url image1

Tančin V, Ipema B, Hogewerf P, Macuhova J (2006) Sources of variation in milk flow characteristics at udder and quarter levels. Journal of Dairy Science 89, 978–988.
Sources of variation in milk flow characteristics at udder and quarter levels.CrossRef | 16507692PubMed | open url image1

Vuong QH (1989) Likelihood ratio tests for model selection and non-nested hypotheses. Econometrica 57, 307–333.
Likelihood ratio tests for model selection and non-nested hypotheses.CrossRef | open url image1

Wolcott ML, Johnston DJ, Barwick SA, Williams PJ, Corbet NJ (2014) The genetics of cow growth and body composition at first calving in two tropical beef genotypes. Animal Production Science 54, 37–49.
The genetics of cow growth and body composition at first calving in two tropical beef genotypes.CrossRef | open url image1

Wu G, Bazer FW, Wallace JM, Spencer TE (2006) Intrauterine growth retardation: implications for the animal sciences. Journal of Animal Science 84, 2316–2337.
Intrauterine growth retardation: implications for the animal sciences.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD28XovFGktLs%3D&md5=c1a24e54fefd2d06dc2f9451f80b1e5dCAS | 16908634PubMed | open url image1



Export Citation