Genetic parameter estimates for tick resistance in Bonsmara cattle

Author: M.A. Budeli, K.A. Nephawe, D. Norris, N.W. Selapa, L. Bergh and A. Maiwashe
Year: 2009
Issue: 4
Volume: 39
Page: 321 - 327

The objectives of the study were to estimate genetic parameters for tick resistance and to evaluate the effect of the level of tick infestation on the estimates of genetic parameters for South African Bonsmara cattle. Field data of repeated tick count records (n = 11 280) on 1 176 animals were collected between 1993 and 2005 by 10 breeders participating in the National Beef Recording and Improvement Scheme. The distribution of tick count records were normalized using a Box-Cox transformation. Data were divided into seven sub-data sets based on the mean tick count per contemporary group, to facilitate the investigation of the effect of level of tick infestation on the derived genetic parameters. A repeatability animal model including the fixed effects of contemporary group and age of animal at tick counting and random effects of the direct additive genetic, permanent environmental and residual effects was used to estimate genetic parameters using REML procedures. The additive genetic variance for tick count ranged from 0.01 to 0.08. The animal permanent environmental variance ranged from 0.00 to 0.03. Phenotypic variance decreased with increasing mean tick count level while additive genetic variance increased with mean tick count level. The heritability also increased with mean tick count level until a mean tick count level of ³30. The highest heritability estimate obtained in the current study was 0.17 for data with mean tick count level ³25. These results suggest that sufficient genetic variation for tick count exists in the Bonsmara cattle. Genetic selection for tick resistance is feasible even though genetic progress may be slow.

Keywords: beef cattle, external parasites, heritability estimates, tick count, variance components
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