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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Genetic evaluations for growth heat tolerance in Angus cattle1

 

This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 94 No. 10, p. 4143-4150
     
    Received: June 08, 2016
    Accepted: Aug 02, 2016
    Published: October 7, 2016


    2 Corresponding author(s): heather.bradford25@uga.edu
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doi:10.2527/jas.2016-0707
  1. H. L. Bradford 2a,
  2. B. O. Fragomenia,
  3. J. K. Bertranda,
  4. D. A. L. Lourencoa and
  5. I. Misztala
  1. a Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens 30605

Abstract

The objectives were to assess the impact of heat stress and to develop a model for genetic evaluation of growth heat tolerance in Angus cattle. The American Angus Association provided weaning weight (WW) and yearling weight (YW) data, and records from the Upper South region were used because of the hot climatic conditions. Heat stress was characterized by a weaning (yearling) heat load function defined as the mean temperature–humidity index (THI) units greater than 75 (70) for 30 (150) d prior to the weigh date. Therefore, a weaning (yearling) heat load of 5 units corresponded to 80 (75) for the corresponding period prior to the weigh date. For all analyses, 82,669 WW and 69,040 YW were used with 3 ancestral generations in the pedigree. Univariate models were a proxy for the Angus growth evaluation, and reaction norms using 2 B-splines for heat load were fit separately for weaning and yearling heat loads. For both models, random effects included direct genetic, maternal genetic, maternal permanent environment (WW only), and residual. Fixed effects included a linear age covariate, age-of-dam class (WW only), and contemporary group for both models and fixed regressions on the B-splines in the reaction norm. Direct genetic correlations for WW were strong for modest heat load differences but decreased to less than 0.50 for large differences. Reranking of proven sires occurred for only WW direct effects for the reaction norms with extreme heat load differences. Conversely, YW results indicated little effect of heat stress on genetic merit. Therefore, weaning heat tolerance was a better candidate for developing selection tools. Maternal heritabilities were consistent across heat loads, and maternal genetic correlations were greater than 0.90 for nearly all heat load combinations. No evidence existed for a genotype × environment interaction for the maternal component of growth. Overall, some evidence exists for phenotypic plasticity for the direct genetic effects of WW, but traditional national cattle evaluations are likely adequately ranking sires for nonextreme environmental conditions.

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