Genetics of slaughter precocity, carcass weight, and carcass weight gain in Chianina, Marchigiana, and Romagnola young bulls under protected geographical indication

Sbarra, F.; Mantovani, R.; Quaglia, A.; Bittante, G.

Journal of Animal Science 91(6): 2596-2604


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-8812
PMID: 23519731
DOI: 10.2527/jas.2013-6235
Accession: 036915206

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The aim of this study was to estimate the heritability and genetic correlation of age at slaughter (AS), as an indicator of slaughter precocity, carcass weight (CW), and CW gain (CWG = CW x AS–1) obtained from young bulls of 3 Italian autochthonous beef cattle breeds [i.e., Chianina (CHI), Marchigiana (MAR), and Romagnola (ROM)]. In addition, the study aimed at evaluating the effect of corrected or uncorrected CW for AS, and analyzing the relationship between adjusted or unadjusted CW with CWG in term of changes in rank correlation in groups of sires with high accuracy. Data were obtained from the Consortium of protected geographical indication (PGI) "Vitellone Bianco dell’Appennino Centrale" (i.e., white young bull of Central Apennines), approved by the European Union. After editing, 20,872 complete records were retained for subsequent Bayesian analysis. Univariate animal model produced h2 estimates of medium value for AS (i.e., from 0.28 for CHI to 0.39 for the ROM breed). The CW presented h2 estimates less than AS, ranging from 0.13 for CHI to 0.24 for ROM bulls. The adjustment of CW by AS (CWU-AS) increased the h2 values for CW in all breeds (i.e., from 0.20 to 0.29). Point estimate of genetic correlations between AS and CW obtained by a bivariate analysis were moderate to low, and negative in all breeds (from –0.08 to –0.29). Rerankings of sire for univariate CW (CWU) analysis and CWU-AS were more noticeable for CHI and ROM (rank correlation of 0.875 and 0.897, respectively) than for the MAR breed (rank correlation of 0.967). Comparing bivariate EBV for CW with EBV for CWU or CWU-AS increased rank correlation to 0.937 for ROM, but for CHI it remained lower (i.e., 0.861), indicating a possible large reranking of sires by correcting CW for AS in this breed. Daily CWG presented h2 estimates greater than CW and similar or greater than AS. It appears to be a good indicator of instant growth rate capacity of the animal but lacking information on the endpoint of fattening in terms of age and weight. Field slaughter data for the CHI, MAR, and ROM breeds under the PGI labeling indicate that AS is not a mere environmental factor to be corrected for but trait subjected to genetic control. Because of its economic relevance in fattening, age at slaughter, as an indicator of slaughter precocity, could become a trait requiring careful consideration for selection of beef breeds.