Genetic response to selection for weaning weight or yearling weight or yearling weight and muscle score in Hereford cattle: efficiency of gain, growth, and carcass characteristics

J Anim Sci. 2004 Mar;82(3):668-82. doi: 10.2527/2004.823668x.


An experiment involving crosses among selection and control lines was conducted to partition direct and maternal additive genetic response to 20 yr of selection for 1) weaning weight, 2) yearling weight, and 3) index of yearling weight and muscle score. Selection response was evaluated for efficiency of gain, growth from birth through market weight, and carcass characteristics. Heritability and genetic correlations among traits were estimated using animal model analyses. Over a time-constant interval, selected lines were heavier, gained more weight, consumed more ME, and had more gain/ME than the control. Over a weight-constant interval, selected lines required fewer days, consumed less ME, had more efficient gains, and required less energy for maintenance than control. Direct and maternal responses were estimated from reciprocal crosses among unselected sires and dams of control and selection lines. Most of the genetic response to selection in all three lines was associated with direct genetic effects, and the highest proportion was from postweaning gain. Indirect responses of carcass characteristics to selection over the 20 yr were increased weight of carcasses that had more lean meat, produced with less feed per unit of gain. At a constant carcass weight, selected lines had 1.32 to 1.85% more retail product and 1.62 to 2.24% less fat trim and 10/100 to 25/100 degrees less marbling than control. At a constant age, heritability of direct and maternal effects and correlations between them were as follows: market weight, 0.36, 0.14, and 0.10; carcass weight, 0.26, 0.15, and 0.03; longissimus muscle area, 0.33, 0.00, and 0.00; marbling, 0.36, 0.07, and -0.35; fat thickness, 0.41, 0.05, and -0.18; percentage of kidney, pelvic, and heart fat, 0.12, 0.08, and -0.76; percentage of retail product, 0.46, 0.05, and -0.29; retail product weight, 0.44, 0.08, -0.14; and muscle score, 0.37, 0.14, and -0.54. Selection criteria in all lines improved efficiency of postweaning gain and increased the amount of salable lean meat on an age- or weight-constant basis, but carcasses had slightly lower marbling scores.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition / genetics*
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Weight / genetics*
  • Breeding
  • Cattle / anatomy & histology
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Cattle / growth & development
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Female
  • Male
  • Meat / standards
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Genetic
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Weaning*