Genetic effects from an Afrikaner, Bonsmara, and Nguni three-breed diallel and top-crosses of Angus and Simmental sires

Author: G.M. Pyoos, M.M. Scholtz, M.D. MacNeil, A. Theunissen & F.W.C. Neser
Year: 2020
Issue: 3
Volume: 50
Page: 366 - 377

Individual and maternal breed additive effects and heterosis exist for most economically important traits in cattle. Crossbreeding may therefore be valuable for emerging and commercial beef farmers in improving the productivity of their herds. Calves were produced by mating Afrikaner, Bonsmara and Nguni cows to Afrikaner, Bonsmara, Nguni, Angus and Simmental bulls. The cows used were from Vaalharts Research Station or were purchased from other herds. Data were collected over three years. Individual and maternal additive effects and individual heterosis were estimated simultaneously as continuous linear variates. The estimated genetic effects were then used to predict production levels that may be achieved through implementation of top-cross, two-breed rotation, and terminal sire crossbreeding systems. The individual estimates of the genetic effects were relatively small and in most cases were not different from zero, with the exception of the maternal additive effects of Nguni on preweaning traits and their individual additive effect on cow weight, which were less than those of Bonsmara. However, the alternative crossbreeding systems differed across traits. The straight-bred breeding system was least efficient, followed by the crisscross system (+2%) and the terminal sire system that utilized Simmental (+4%), with the terminal sire system utilizing Angus being on average most efficient (+8%). The inter-generational genetic differences in cow weight that resulted from the use of different breeds of sire increased its standard deviation by 5 to 6% in rotational crossing. Despite the relatively small magnitude of the genetic effects, advantages of crossbreeding systems became evident.

Keywords: breed additive, crossbreeding, heterosis, post-weaning, pre-weaning
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