Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition, Growth and Physiology » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #294657

Title: Genetics of reproductive traits: Antagonisms with production traits

item Cushman, Robert - Bob
item McNeel, Anthony
item McDaneld, Tara
item PERRY, GEORGE - South Dakota State University

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/3/2013
Publication Date: 6/27/2013
Citation: Cushman, R.A., McNeel, A.K., McDaneld, T.G., Perry, G.A. 2013. Genetics of reproductive traits: Antagonisms with production traits. Proceedings, Genomic Seedstock Symposium (June 27-28, 2013, Sioux Falls, SD). pp. 19-28.

Interpretive Summary: Not applicable for proceedings.

Technical Abstract: Animal breeding and reproductive physiology have been closely related throughout the history of animal production science, because artificial insemination provides the best method of increasing the influence of sires with superior genetics to improve production traits. The addition of genetic technologies to this paradigm allows for improved methods of selecting sires and dams carrying the best genetics for production and yield of edible products. However, decreasing the number of influential parents within a population also increases the risk of propagating a recessive gene that could negatively impact the species (Ghanem and Nishibori, 2009; Meyers et al., 2010). Antagonistic genotypic relationships between production traits and reproductive traits (Johnston et al., 2009; Collis et al., 2012; Tait et al., 2013) suggest that care must be taken to ensure that increasing the frequency of genes with a positive influence on production does not negatively impact the fertility of the replacement females as has occurred in the dairy industry. The use of genetic technologies to improve reproduction has been slow to implementation in domestic farm species, mostly due to the relatively low heritability of these traits (Cushman et al., 2008; Cammack et al., 2009). Among reproductive traits, those with the greatest heritability are associated with sexual maturity (Table 1), probably because these traits depend on the animal attaining a certain body mass, or body composition (Gargantini et al., 2005; Johnston et al., 2009). The tight relationship between growth and development genes and reproductive success suggests that genetic technologies must be used with care to improve production efficiency without negatively impacting fertility, and suggests a need for genetic markers of fertility to develop selection indices that do not focus solely on production traits.