Production characters of first-generation cows of a five-breed diallel: reproduction of young cows and preweaning performance of inter se calves

McElhenney, W.H.; Long, C.R.; Baker, J.F.; Cartwright, T.C.

Journal of Animal Science 61(1): 55-65


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-8812
PMID: 4030521
DOI: 10.2527/jas1985.61155x
Accession: 001438121

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Data on 1051 cows from a 5-breed diallel mating plan involving the Aberdeen-Angus (AA), Brahman, Hereford, Holstein-Friesian (HF) and Jersey breeds were analysed. The cows were used in inter se matings to produce 3 second-generation parturitions per cow. Crossbred cows were 43 days younger (P<0.05), 14 kg heavier (P<0.05) and 2 cm taller (P<0.05) at 1st calving than purebred cows. However, no differences were detected between the 2 groups for pelvic measurements. Although large differences among breed types existed for pregnancy duration, crossbreds generally did not differ from purebreds for this character. Crossbred cows exhibited a 7.5-days shorter (P<0.05) interval from parturition to 1st service than purebreds, but did not exhibit a shorter interval from parturition to conception. The dairy breeds (HF and Jersey) and their crosses exhibited similar postpartum and calving intervals to AA, whereas Brahman and their crosses had longer intervals. Crossbred calves were 1.3 kg heavier (P<0.01) and had greater (P<0.01) shoulder and hip measurements at birth than purebred calves, but no difference in the amount of dystocia was detected between the 2 groups. Higher (P<0.01) rates of survival to 24 h (3.7%) and to weaning (8.7%) were observed for crossbred calves than for purebred calves. Heterotic effects for body weight at weaning (15.2 kg), height at weaning (2 cm) and preweaning av. daily gain (68 g) were large, and illustrate the importance of individual and maternal heterosis for these characters. These results suggest that substantial amounts of heterosis may be retained for survival and weaning characters of calves in early generations of inter se mating of crossbreds.