Phenotypic and genetic relationships of feed efficiency with growth performance, ultrasound and carcass merit traits in Angus and Charolais steers.

Mao, F., Chen, L., Vinsky, M.D., Okine, E.K., Wang, Z., Basarab, J.A., Crews, Jr., D.H., and Li, C. (2013). "Phenotypic and genetic relationships of feed efficiency with growth performance, ultrasound and carcass merit traits in Angus and Charolais steers.", Journal of Animal Science, 91(5), pp. 2067-2076. doi : 10.2527/jas.2012-5470  Access to full text

Abstract

Feed efficiency is of particular importance to the beef industry as feed costs represent the single largest variable cost in beef production systems. Selection for more efficient cattle will lead to reduction of feed related costs but should not have adverse impacts on quality of the carcass. In this study, we evaluated phenotypic and genetic correlations of residual feed intake (RFI), RFI adjusted for end of test ultrasound backfat thickness (RFIf), and RFI adjusted for ultrasound backfat thickness and LM area (RFIfr) with growth, ultrasound and carcass merit traits in an Angus population of 551 steers and in a Charolais populations of 417 steers. In the Angus steer population, the phenotypic and genetic correlation of RFI with carcass merit traits including hot carcass weight, carcass backfat, carcass LM area, lean meat yield and carcass marbling were not significant or weak with correlation coefficients ranging from -0.0007±0.05 to 0.18±0.21. In the Charolais steer population, the phenotypic and genetic correlation of RFI with the carcass merit traits were also weak with correlation coefficients ranging from -0.07±0.06 to 0.19±0.18 except for the genetic correlation with carcass average backfat, which was moderate with a magnitude of 0.42±0.29. Inclusion of ultrasound backfat thickness in the model to predict the expected daily DMI for maintenance explained on average an additional 0.5% variation of DMI in the Angus steers and 2.3% variation of DMI in the Charolais steer population. Inclusion of both the ultrasound backfat and LM area in the model explained only 0.7% additional variance in DMI in the Angus steer population and only 0.6% in the Charolais steer population on top of the RFIf model. We concluded that RFIf adjusted for ultrasound backfat at the end of the test will lead to decreases of both the phenotypic and genetic correlations with carcass backfat and marbling score to a greater extent for late-maturing beef breeds such as Charolais than for early-maturing beef breeds such as Angus. However, further inclusion of ultrasound LM area on top of the final ultrasound backfat in the model of calculating RFI had little effects in reducing the correlations of RFI with the carcass merit traits.

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