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An investigation into potential genetic predictors of birth weight in tropically adapted beef cattle in northern Australia

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Moore, K. L., Johnston, D. J. and Grant, T. P. (2023) An investigation into potential genetic predictors of birth weight in tropically adapted beef cattle in northern Australia. Animal Production Science, 63 (11). pp. 1105-1112.


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/AN23123

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AN23123


Context: Birth weight can be an important trait in beef cattle through its association with dystocia and increased likelihood of calf and cow mortality. Recording large numbers of birth weights in beef cattle to obtain a suitable genetic evaluation has often been hard to achieve.Aims: We assess if coronet circumference measurements taken at birth and weights and coronet circumference measured post-birth are suitable predictors of birth weight for use in genetic evaluation in northern Australian tropically adapted beef breeds.Methods: Animals were recorded at birth for weight (N = 5352) and coronet circumference (N = 2552), at 3 months of age for the liveweight (N = 2848) and coronet circumference (N = 2855) and liveweight at 6 months (N = 4929). Data were from three tropically adapted beef cattle breeds (viz. Brahman, Droughtmaster and Santa Gertrudis) recorded in two northern Australia herds. Genetic parameters were estimated from a pooled dataset containing all three breeds.Results: Birth weight had an estimated direct and maternal heritability of 0.51 (0.04) and 0.14 (0.02) respectively. Coronet circumference also had high heritabilities, with estimates at birth and 3 months of 0.50 (0.07) and 0.55 (0.06) respectively. The estimated genetic correlation between birth weight and coronet circumference measured at birth was 0.86 (0.03). Birth weight genetic correlations were 0.75 (0.05) with 3-month weight, 0.69 (0.05) with weaning weight and 0.62 (0.05) with coronet circumference at 3 months.Conclusions: Coronet measurements could be used in genetic evaluation as a proxy for birth weight. However, the most useful coronet measure was when it was recorded at birth. This would still require catching the calf at birth, thus greatly reducing the benefit of having an alternative measure. Coronet circumference recorded in the branding cradle at 3 months of age was also a useful predictor of birth weight but added little if post-birth weights were available. Importantly, all post-birth indirect measures of birth weight require adjustment for animal age and, therefore, would need recording of the individual calf’s date of birth.Implications: Coronet circumference recorded at birth and 3 months of age does not appear to be a suitable proxy for genetic evaluation of birth weight.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:birth weight, Bos indicus beef cattle, genetic correlation, hard-to-measure traits, heritability, hoof coronet circumference, indirect genetic selection, liveweight.
Subjects:Science > Biology > Genetics
Science > Biology > Reproduction
Animal culture > Cattle
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia > Queensland
Live Archive:28 Aug 2023 05:36
Last Modified:28 Aug 2023 05:36

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