Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #265073

Title: Genetics of postweaning performance of beef cattle on forage

item Brown, Michael
item HOLLOWAY, J - Texas Agrilife
item LALMAN, D - Oklahoma State University
item DOBBS, C - Oklahoma State University
item CLIFTON, S - Redlands Community College

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/4/2011
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Abstract only.

Technical Abstract: Increases in the costs of feed grains have revived interest in increasing the use of forages and grazing in order to either market as forage-finished beef or to produce heavy calves that will finish on less grain. However, little is known about the interactions of animal genetics and grazing environment that allows the most efficient use of resources and has the best potential to be economically efficient. Determination of the optimal combination of animal genetics and production environment requires that the target end-points of production are well-defined and it requires knowledge about available animal genetics and the intended production environment. Animal genetics is loosely defined by rate of maturing, milk production potential, and level of tropical adaptation. In addition, knowledge of breed combination, gender, and genetic merit is helpful. Environmental effects that must be considered include nutritional value of the forage, climate, geography, time, and management. With this information, robust systems can be developed considering the interactions of environmental effects, interactions of genetic effects, and the interactions of genetic and environmental effects. Not only do these systems need to appropriately match genetics and environment, they need to be low-capital systems that are simple to implement and operate. Attributes of animal genetics that might be desirable include efficiency of forage utilization, adaptation not only heat and cold conditions but also adaptable to rapid changes in climate. To fit within the current commodity beef system, it is desirable that cattle in these systems marble early with respect to their mature weight, and that they have sufficient growth to produce acceptable carcass weights by 18 to 24 mo of age. It seems reasonable that selection of appropriate genetics will match frame size to forage quality with lower quality forages requiring more moderate frame size. The use of crossbreeding in these systems will require a closer evaluation of direct and maternal heterosis as well as direct and maternal breed effects. The incorporation of tropical adaptation into efficient forage-based beef production systems will be dependent on forage quality, climate, and pressure from external parasites. While there is considerable information about animal genetics and production environments or management systems, less is known about interactions among these effects. Consequently, efficient forage production of beef will require additional information through research.