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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Genetic correlations of young bull reproductive traits and heifer puberty traits with female reproductive performance in two tropical beef genotypes in northern Australia

D. J. Johnston A B E , N. J. Corbet A C , S. A. Barwick A B , M. L. Wolcott A B and R. G. Holroyd A D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies.

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

C CSIRO Livestock Industries, Rockhampton, Qld 4700, Australia.

D Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Rockhampton, Qld 4700, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: djohnsto@une.edu.au

Animal Production Science 54(1) 74-84 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN13044
Submitted: 1 February 2013  Accepted: 11 April 2013   Published: 20 August 2013

Abstract

Genetic correlations of young bull and heifer puberty traits with measures of early and lifetime female reproductive performance were estimated in two tropical beef cattle genotypes. Heifer age at puberty was highly (rg = –0.71 ± 0.11) and moderately (rg = –0.40 ± 0.20) genetically correlated with pregnancy rate at first annual mating (mating 1) and lifetime annual calving rate, respectively in Brahman (BRAH). In Tropical Composite (TCOMP), heifer age at puberty was highly correlated with reproductive outcomes from the first re-breed (mating 2), mainly due to its association with lactation anoestrous interval (rg = 0.72 ± 0.17). Scrotal circumference were correlated with heifer age at puberty (rg = –0.41 ± 0.11 at 12 months in BRAH; –0.30 ± 0.13 at 6 months in TCOMP) but correlations were lower with later female reproduction traits. Bull insulin-like growth factor-I was correlated with heifer age at puberty (rg = –0.56 ± 0.11 in BRAH; –0.43 ± 0.11 in TCOMP) and blood luteinising hormone concentration was moderately correlated with lactation anoestrous interval (rg = 0.59 ± 0.23) in TCOMP. Semen quality traits, including mass activity, motility and percent normal sperm were genetically correlated with lactation anoestrus and female lifetime female reproductive traits in both genotypes, but the magnitudes of the relationships differed with bull age at measurement. Preputial eversion and sheath scores were genetically associated with lifetime calving and weaning rates in both genotypes. Several of the early-in-life male and female measures examined were moderately to highly genetically correlated with early and lifetime female reproduction traits and may be useful as indirect selection criteria for improving female reproduction in tropical breeds in northern Australia.


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