Heritability and genetic correlations of feed intake, body weight gain, residual gain, and residual feed intake of beef cattle as heifers and cows

Freetly, H.C.; Kuehn, L.A.; Thallman, R.M.; Snelling, W.M.

Journal of Animal Science 98(1)


ISSN/ISBN: 1525-3163
PMID: 31903482
DOI: 10.1093/jas/skz394
Accession: 069680435

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The cow herd consumes approximately 70% of the annual feed resources. To date, most genetic evaluations of feed intake in beef cattle have been made in growing animals and little information is available for mature cows. Genetic evaluations in mature cows have predominately been confined to lactating dairy cows and the relationship between feed intake as growing heifers and mature cows has not been addressed. It was the purpose of this study to estimate the heritability of feed intake when measured as growing heifers and mature cows and determine the genetic correlation between these measurements. Individual feed intake and BW gain were measured on 687 heifers and 622 5-yr-old cows. The heritability of average daily DMI (ADDMI) estimated in heifers was 0.84 ± 0.12 and 0.53 ± 0.12 in cows. The heritability of ADG estimated in heifers was 0.53 ± 0.12 and 0.34 ± 0.11 in cows. The genetic correlation between heifer and cow ADDMI was 0.84 ± 0.09. The genetic correlation between heifer and cow ADG was 0.73 ± 019. Heritability of residual feed intake in heifers was 0.25 ± 0.11 and 0.16 ± 0.10 in cows. Heritability for residual gain in heifers was 0.21 ± 0.11 and 0.14 ± 0.10 in cows. Feed intake and ADG are heritable and genetically correlated between heifers and cows. Selection for decreased feed intake and ADG in growing animals will probably have the same directional effects on mature cows.