• Cattle stratified on genetic merit segregate on carcass characteristics, but there is scope for improvement

      Berry, Donagh; Pabiou, Thierry; Brennan, Denis; Hegarthy, Patrick J; Judge, Michelle M; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; 16/ RC/3835 (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019-05-03)
      The study objective was to quantify the ability of genetic merit for a generated carcass index to differentiate animals on primal carcass cut weights using data from 1,446 herds on 9,414 heifers and 22,413 steers with weights for 14 different primal carcass cuts (plus 3 generated groups of cuts). The carcass genetic merit index was compromised of carcass weight (positive weight), conformation (positive weight), and fat score (negative weight), each equally weighted within the index. The association analyses were undertaken using linear mixed models; models were run with or without carcass weight as a covariate. In a further series of analyses, carcass weight and carcass fat score were both included as covariates in the models. Whether the association between primal cut yield and carcass weight differed by genetic merit stratum was also investigated. Genetic merit was associated (P < 0.001) with the weight of all cuts evaluated even when adjusted to a common carcass weight (P < 0.01); when simultaneously adjusted to a common carcass weight and fat score, genetic merit was not associated with the weight of the cuberoll or the group cuts termed minced-meat. The weight of the different primal cuts increased almost linearly within increasing genetic merit, with the exception of the rump and bavette. The difference in mean primal cut weight between the very low and very high genetic merit strata, as a proportion of the overall mean weight of that cut in the entire data set, varied from 0.05 (bavette) to 0.28 (eye of round); the average was 0.17. Following adjustment for differences in carcass weight, there was no difference in cut weight between the very low and very high strata for the rump, chuck tender, and mince cut group; the remaining cuts were heavier in the higher index animals with the exception of the cuberoll and bavette, which were lighter in the very high index animals. The association between carcass weight and the weight of each of the evaluated primal cuts differed (P < 0.05) by genetic merit stratum for all cuts evaluated with the exception of the rump, striploin, and brisket as well as the group cuts of frying and mincing. With the exception of these 5 primal (group) cuts, the regression coefficients of primal cut weight on carcass weight increased consistently for all traits with increasing genetic merit stratum, other than for the fillet, cuberoll, bavette, chuck and neck, and heel and shank.