Quantifying genetic differences between exported dairy bull calves and those sold for domestic beef production
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CitationD.P. Berry, S.C. Ring, A.J. Twomey, Quantifying genetic differences between exported dairy bull calves and those sold for domestic beef production, JDS Communications, Volume 2, Issue 6, 2021, Pages 351-355, ISSN 2666-9102, https://doi.org/10.3168/jdsc.2021-0105.
AbstractSelection bias is introduced when selection among individuals exists but the information used to inform that selection decision is not considered in downstream genetic evaluations. Genetic evaluations are undertaken in several countries for carcass-related metrics in prime cattle; no consideration is generally taken for animals that are harvested at a younger age for veal production and thus do not express the prime carcass phenotype. Although no veal industry exists in Ireland, dairy calves are routinely exported to continental Europe for veal production. The objective of the present study, based on a cross-sectional analysis of calf export data, was to determine quantitatively if genetic variability exists in whether purchased dairy-bred bull calves are immediately exported or retained within the country for domestic production. Also of interest was whether such a genetic difference was associated with differences in carcass weight, conformation score, and fat score in prime cattle relatives. Editing criteria were imposed to consider only Holstein-Friesian bull calves. Post-editing, the fate of 43,890 Holstein-Friesian bull calves (<100 d of age) was available; variance components for the binary phenotype (sold for export or not) were estimated using both linear and threshold animal models, and genetic correlations with carcass traits from 56,366 prime cattle were estimated. The heritability (standard error) of whether or not a calf was exported was 0.04 (0.01) on the linear scale and 0.07 (0.02) on the threshold scale. Although no explicit maternal genetic effect was detected, the proportion of the phenotypic variance due to maternal effects was 0.03 to 0.07. The genetic correlation (standard error) between the export phenotype with carcass weight, conformation score [scale 1 (poor) to 15 (excellent)], and fat score [scale 1 (thin) to 15 (fat)] in prime cattle was 0.002 (0.12), −0.25 (0.12), and −0.32 (0.11), respectively. The low heritability of the calf export phenotype and lack of a strong genetic correlation with carcass metrics suggest that other calf features might be greater determinants of the eventual fate of the calf. Accounting for the export phenotype in genetic evaluations of carcass traits in prime cattle had a negligible effect on the estimated breeding values for carcass merit.
FunderGovernment of Ireland
Grant NumberGrant 16/RC/3835 (VistaMilk)
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