Long-term selection experiment with Afrikaner cattle 3. Selection applied and response in calf growth traits

Author: L.M. Beffa, J.B. van Wyk and G.J. Erasmus
Year: 2009
Issue: 2
Volume: 39
Page: 106 - 113

A selection and line x environment interaction study with grade Afrikaner cattle was established in 1956 at Matopos Research Station, Zimbabwe. Two selection lines of 100 cows each were reared in different management environments. The non-supplemented (NS) line relied on the range throughout the year and was mated to calve with the onset of the rains (December to February). The supplemented (S) line was offered protein-rich supplements during the dry season and mated to calve prior to the onset of the rains (October to December). In 1976, after approximately two generations of selection, lines were sub-divided into 75 cows each, where one sub-line remained within each environment as a control; the remaining sub-lines were interchanged between environments. Bulls were selected on weaning weight within control lines, while replacement heifers were selected on weight at mating within sub-line. Data recorded over approximately six generations of selection (40 years) were analyzed. The average age of sires and dams at the time of birth of their progeny was 5.9 and 7.5 years respectively in the pre-crossover phase and was reduced to 4.4 and 6.5 years respectively in the post-crossover phase. The rate of inbreeding across lines and environments was 1.2%/generation. The cumulative selection differential trends for both the S and NS lines for adjusted weaning weight plotted against generation number were very low, relatively linear and greater for the S line (0.10 s.d./year) compared with the NS line (0.08 s.d./year). Direct and correlated responses were uniformly low, approximating 1% of the trait mean per generation, and indicating that considerable attention was given to secondary characters. These results concur with general findings of effective direct and correlated responses of weight traits to individual selection.

Keywords: correlated response, Sanga, sub-tropics
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