An experiment was carried out to compare sire breeds for carcass traits and to estimate heritabilities and phenotypic and genetic correlations. There were 1908 male cattle from 5 birth years. The sire breeds, each evaluated over three locations, were Blonde d'Aquitaine, Charolais, Chianina, Limousin, Maine Anjou, Simmental (four strains: Austrian, French (Pie Rouge), Swiss and West German) and South Devon (i.e. seven imported breeds) and Angus, Friesian, Hereford and Jersey (four local breeds), with a total of 161 sires represented. Each location contained Angus cows and additionally one location contained Hereford cows. Proportionally 0·72 of the cattle were slaughtered at about 20 months of age, whilst random samples from each of the first 4 years were retained for slaughter at about 31 months of age.
Sire breeds ranked similarly for live weight at 13 months of age and for pre-slaughter weights at both 20 and 31 months of age. Relative to the Hereford-cross, the seven imported breeds were proportionally 0·054 to 0·072 heavier at slaughter (depending on slaughter age) and they had 0-065 to 0·077 heavier carcasses. Dressing proportions for the Blonde d'Aquitaine, Chianina and Limousin sire breeds were higher by at least 0007 units than for the Hereford-cross. The seven imported breeds were all leaner and had larger areas of m. longissimus than the Hereford-cross cattle. Friesian-crosses also had high live or carcass weights although they were intermediate for fat depth.
The interaction of sire and dam breeds were only significant for fat depth (both slaughter ages) and for pre-slaughter and hot carcass weights (31-month slaughter age only). Interactions between sire breed and location were not important.
Heritability estimates on data adjusted to a slaughter age of 595 days were: pre-slaughter weight 0·29, hot carcass weight 0·28, dressing proportion 0·14, fat depth 0·03 and m. longissimus area 0·30. Corresponding values on cattle whose records were adjusted to an age of 935 days were 0·56, 0·44, 0·39, 0·37 and 0·29. These values were from cattle grazed on pasture, and were generally lower than those from America (from cattle offered high energy rations). Phenotypic correlations among all pairs of traits were positive, whilst genetic correlations were positive for all pairs except those involving fat depth (where standard errors were large).