Selection for feed efficiency traits and correlated genetic responses in feed intake and weight gain of Nellore cattle

Grion, A.L.; Mercadante, M.E.Z.; Cyrillo, J.N.S.G.; Bonilha, S.F.M.; Magnani, E.; Branco, R.H.

Journal of Animal Science 92(3): 955-965


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-8812
PMID: 24492579
DOI: 10.2527/jas.2013-6682
Accession: 055691184

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The objectives of this study were to estimate genetic parameters for indicator traits of feed efficiency and to recommend traits that would result in better responses to selection for increased weaning weight (weaning weight adjusted to 210 d of age [W210]), ADG, and metabolic BW (BW(0.75)) and lower DMI. Records of W210 from 8,004 Nellore animals born between 1978 and 2011 and postweaning performance test records from 678 males and females born between 2004 and 2011 were used. The following feed efficiency traits were evaluated: G:F, partial efficiency of growth (PEG), relative growth rate (RGR), Kleiber's ratio (KR), residual feed intake (RFI), residual weight gain (RWG), and residual intake and gain (RIG). Covariance and variance components were estimated by the restricted maximum likelihood method using multitrait analysis under an animal model. Estimates of genetic gain and correlated responses were obtained considering single-stage and 2-stage selection. Heritability estimates were 0.22 ± 0.03 (W210), 0.60 ± 0.08 (DMI), 0.42 ± 0.08 (ADG), 0.56 ± 0.06 (BW(0.75)), 0.19 ± 0.07 (G:F), 0.25 ± 0.09 (PEG), 0.19 ± 0.07 (RGR), 0.22 ± 0.07 (KR), 0.33 ± 0.10 (RFI), 0.13 ± 0.07 (RWG), and 0.19 ± 0.08 (RIG). The genetic correlations of DMI with W210 (0.64 ± 0.10), ADG (0.87 ± 0.06), and BW(0.75) (0.84 ± 0.05) were high. The only efficiency traits showing favorable responses to selection for lower DMI were G:F, PEG, RFI, and RIG. However, the use of G:F, PEG, or RFI as a selection criterion results in unfavorable correlated responses in some growth traits. The linear combination of RFI and RWG through RIG is the best selection criterion to obtain favorable responses in postweaning growth and feed intake of Nellore cattle in single-stage selection. Genetic gains in feed efficiency are expected even after preselection for W210 and subsequent feed efficiency testing of the preselected animals.