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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition and Environmental Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366955

Research Project: Improve Nutrient Management and Efficiency of Beef Cattle and Swine

Location: Nutrition and Environmental Management Research

Title: Heritability and genetic correlations of feed intake, body weight gain, residual gain, and residual feed intake of beef cattle as heifers and cows

Author
item Freetly, Harvey
item Kuehn, Larry
item Thallman, Richard - Mark
item Snelling, Warren

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2019
Publication Date: 1/6/2020
Citation: Freetly, H.C., Kuehn, L.A., Thallman, R.M., Snelling, W.M. 2020. Heritability and genetic correlations of feed intake, body weight gain, residual gain, and residual feed intake of beef cattle as heifers and cows. Journal of Animal Science. 98(1):1-6. https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skz394.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skz394

Interpretive Summary: The cow herd consumes approximately 70% of the annual feed resources. To date most genetic evaluations of feed intake in beef cattle have been made in growing animals, and little information is available for mature cows. ARS scientists at Clay Center, Nebraska, determined that there was a positive genetic correlation between feed intake in young females and adult females. They also determined that there was a positive genetic correlation between body weight gain in young females and adult females. There were positive genetic correlations between feed intake and body weight gain. Selection for decreased feed intake and ADG in growing animals will likely have the same directional effects on mature cows.

Technical Abstract: The cow herd consumes approximately 70% of the annual feed resources. To date, most genetic evaluations of feed intake in beef cattle have been made in growing animals and little information is available for mature cows. Genetic evaluations in mature cows have predominately been confined to lactating dairy cows and the relationship between feed intake as growing heifers and mature cows has not been addressed. It was the purpose of this study to estimate the heritability of feed intake when measured as growing heifers and mature cows and determine the genetic correlation associated with these measurements. Individual feed intake and body weight gain was measured on 687 heifers and 622 5-yr-old cows. The heritability of average daily DMI (ADDMI) estimated in heifers was 0.84 ± 0.12 and 0.53 ± 0.12 in cows. The heritability of ADG estimated in heifers was 0.53 ± 0.12 and 0.34 ± 0.11 in cows. The genetic correlation between heifer and cow ADDMI was 0.84 ± 0.09. The genetic correlation between heifer and cow ADG was 0.73 ± 019. Heritability of residual feed intake (RFI) in heifers was 0.25 ± 0.11 and 0.16 ± 0.10 in cows. Heritability for residual gain in heifers was 0.21 ± 0.11 and 0.14 ± 0.10 in cows. Feed intake and ADG is heritable and genetically correlated between heifers and cows. Selection for decreased feed intake and ADG in growing animals will probably have the same directional effects on mature cows.