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Evidence of genotype by environment interaction for reproductive and maternal traits in beef cattle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2010

C. A. Morris
Affiliation:
Ruakura Agricultural Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand
R. L. Baker
Affiliation:
Ruakura Agricultural Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand
S. M. Hickey
Affiliation:
Ruakura Agricultural Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand
D. L. Johnson
Affiliation:
Ruakura Agricultural Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand
N. G. Cullen
Affiliation:
Ruakura Agricultural Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand
J. A. Wilson
Affiliation:
Ruakura Agricultural Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand
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Abstract

A total of 161 bulls from 11 breeds were used to generate crossbred calves from Angus cows in 1973 to 1977 at each of three diverse New Zealand locations, and from Hereford cows at one of the locations in the same years. The bulls comprised four local breeds, Angus, Friesian, Hereford, and Jersey, and seven recently imported breeds, Blonde d'Aquitaine, Charolais, Chianina, Limousin, Maine Anjou, Simmental and South Devon. This paper reports the reproductive and maternal performance of the straightbred and first-cross cows over the first four calvings, with first mating as yearlings at 14 to 16 months of age. A total of 7575 mating records from 2109 cows were analysed. Location differences were greater for reproduction than for growth traits and resulted in genotype × environment interactions for some components of cow performance and particularly the composite traits, weight of calf weaned per cow joined (productivity) and cow ‘efficiency’ (the ratio of productivity to cow weight). At all locations the Friesian-cross cows weaned the greatest weight of calf per head but were matched or surpassed by the lighter Jersey crosses in terms of efficiency of calf production. Most of the European crosses performed relatively much better in the most favourable environment than in the harsh environment and this was particularly marked for the productivity of Simmental crosses. Heterosis as a proportion of the purebred mean was important for cow performance and particularly pregnancy rate (0·12), productivity (0·21) and the efficiency ratio (0·16). Heritabilities for weight and age at puberty were both 0·34 (s.e. 0·08). Repeatabilities and heritabilities for cow reproductive traits were low (0·0 to 0·10) but higher for calf weights up to weaning as a trait of the cow (0·09 to 0·38). In general, the large European breeds which excelled in growth and carcass production produced female progeny which reached puberty at greater ages, had lower reproductive performance (especially in less favourable environments) and larger mature size. Some breed utilization strategies to achieve trade-offs between these genetic antagonisms are discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British Society of Animal Science 1993

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