Phenotypic variances within pairs of monozygotic and dizygotic twin heifers and also genetic variances and heritabilities were calculated for 12 linear body measurements at a sequence of eight ages up to two years old. The 60 pairs of fraternal and 60 pairs of identical twins used were reared as part of a larger uniformity trial in which feeding was effectively ad libitum throughout.
Size differences between members of DZ twin pairs were found to be approximately normally distributed with about the same variance for all breeds and crosses. The variance within DZ pairs increased strongly with age, with a marked increase between 9 and 12 months of age and with most body measurements showing a broadly similar trend. On a logarithmic scale DZ variances increased roughly linearly with degree of maturity and at about the same rate in each body measurement. Coefficients of variation within DZ pairs corrected for measuring error had an average value of 2%. They did not change greatly with age, and were roughly the same for most body measurements although width measurements tended to be more variable than average.
Coefficients of variation within MZ pairs had a corresponding overall average of 1·4%; they declined rapidly with age from 2·0% to 1·1%, were roughly the same for all body measurements, but at early ages tended to be greater in late than in early maturing body parts. However, they showed no association with the earliness of maturing of a body part provided variation was measured at the same degree of maturity for each body part.
Genetic variation increased rapidly with age in all body measurements. The rate of increase with age was greater for late than for early maturing parts. The rate of increase with degree of maturity, however, was about the same for all body measurements. Coefficients of genetic variation increased slowly with age; they had an average value of 1·6%.
Estimates of heritability are given at a sequence of eight ages for each of 12 body measurements. They increased strongly with age from 0·14 on average at three months of age to 0·67 on average at two years of age. At any fixed age, early maturing body parts tended to have higher heritabilities than later maturing body parts. However, if heritability was measured at the same degree of maturity in each body part, early and late maturing parts had about equal heritabilities.
The present results are compared with those obtained from twin cattle studies in New Zealand, Sweden and Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Inferences from twins about genetic variances and heritabilities for unrelated animals are discussed.