Estimates of variance components for feedlot traits of the Simmentaler breed in South Africa

Author: J. Hendriks, F.W.C. Neser, J.B van Wyk, F.J. Jordaan & M.M. Scholtz
Year: 2021
Issue: 6
Volume: 51
Page: 793 - 800

Breeding of beef cattle is changing, with more emphasis on efficiency of production. Feed cost is the highest expense, and reducing it has the potential to increase profitability. Common measures of efficiency are ratio traits such as feed conversion (feed consumed/weight gain) and feed efficiency (weight gain / feed consumed). Feed conversion ratio is commonly used in South Africa in an attempt to improve feed efficiency. These ratio traits are associated with growth rate. Selection for them would result in higher growth as a correlated response and might also increase the mature size of the cows and their maintenance cost. Thus, alternative efficiency traits such as residual feed intake and residual daily gain have been proposed. In this study, variance components, and genetic parameters for feedlot traits for the South African Simmentaler breed were estimated, with emphasis on the efficiency traits. The focus was to evaluate the use of residual feed intake as an alternative trait. The results indicate non-significant correlations between residual feed intake and body weight and growth traits, implying that residual feed intake should have little effect on the other traits. This is in contrast to the moderate to strong correlations of feed conversion ratio with the same traits. The study demonstrates that considerable genetic variation exists for residual feed intake, which can be exploited. Selection for residual feed intake can reduce the carbon footprint of beef due to the associated lower methane emissions.

Keywords: feed conversion ratio, heritability, residual feed intake, weight
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