• Intake, growth and carcass traits in male progeny of sires differing in genetic merit for beef production

      Clarke, Anne Marie; Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David A.; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh P. (Cambridge University Press, 2009-06)
      Validation of economic indexes under a controlled experimental environment, can aid in their acceptance and use as breeding tools to increase herd profitability. The objective of this study was to compare intake, growth and carcass traits in bull and steer progeny of high and low ranking sires, for genetic merit in an economic index. The Beef Carcass Index (BCI; expressed in euro (€) and based on weaning weight, feed intake, carcass weight, carcass conformation and fat scores) was generated by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation as a tool to compare animals on genetic merit for the expected profitability of their progeny at slaughter. A total of 107 male suckler herd progeny, from 22 late-maturing ‘continental’ beef sires of high (n = 11) or low (n = 11) BCI were compared under either a bull or steer production system, and slaughtered at approximately 16 and 24 months of age, respectively. All progeny were purchased after weaning at approximately 6 to 8 months of age. Dry matter (DM) intake and live-weight gain in steer progeny offered grazed grass or grass silage alone, did not differ between the two genetic groups. Similarly, DM intake and feed efficiency did not differ between genetic groups during an ad libitum concentrate-finishing period on either production system. Carcasses of progeny of high BCI sires were 14 kg heavier (P < 0.05) than those of low BCI sires. In a series of regression analyses, increasing sire BCI resulted in increases in carcass weight (P < 0.01) and carcass conformation (P = 0.051) scores, and decreases in carcass fat (P < 0.001) scores, but had no effect on weaning weight or DM intake of the progeny. Each unit increase in sire expected progeny difference led to an increase in progeny weaning weight, DM intake, carcass weight, carcass conformation score and carcass fat score of 1.0 (s.e. = 0.53) kg, 1.1 (s.e. = 0.32) kg, 1.3 (s.e. = 0.31) kg, 0.9 (s.e. = 0.32; scale 1 to 15) and 1.0 (s.e. = 0.25; scale 1 to 15), respectively, none of which differed from the theoretical expectation of unity. The expected difference in profitability at slaughter between progeny of the high and low BCI sires was €42, whereas the observed phenotypic profit differential of the progeny was €53 in favour of the high BCI sires. Results from this study indicate that the BCI is a useful tool in the selection of genetically superior sires, and that actual progeny performance under the conditions of this study is within expectations for both bull and steer beef production systems.
    • Live animal measurements, carcass composition and plasma hormone and metabolite concentrations in male progeny of sires differing in genetic merit for beef production

      Clarke, Anne Marie; Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David A.; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh P. (Cambridge University Press, 2009-07)
      In genetic improvement programmes for beef cattle, the effect of selecting for a given trait or index on other economically important traits, or their predictors, must be quantified to ensure no deleterious consequential effects go unnoticed. The objective was to compare live animal measurements, carcass composition and plasma hormone and metabolite concentrations of male progeny of sires selected on an economic index in Ireland. This beef carcass index (BCI) is expressed in euros and based on weaning weight, feed intake, carcass weight and carcass conformation and fat scores. The index is used to aid in the genetic comparison of animals for the expected profitability of their progeny at slaughter. A total of 107 progeny from beef sires of high (n = 11) or low (n = 11) genetic merit for the BCI were compared in either a bull (slaughtered at 16 months of age) or steer (slaughtered at 24 months of age) production system, following purchase after weaning (8 months of age) from commercial beef herds. Data were analysed as a 2 × 2 factorial design (two levels of genetic merit by two production systems). Progeny of high BCI sires had heavier carcasses, greater (P < 0.01) muscularity scores after weaning, greater (P < 0.05) skeletal scores and scanned muscle depth pre-slaughter, higher (P < 0.05) plasma insulin concentrations and greater (P < 0.01) animal value (obtained by multiplying carcass weight by carcass value, which was based on the weight of meat in each cut by its commercial value) than progeny of low BCI sires. Regression of progeny performance on sire genetic merit was also undertaken across the entire data set. In steers, the effect of BCI on carcass meat proportion, calculated carcass value (c/kg) and animal value was positive (P < 0.01), while a negative association was observed for scanned fat depth pre-slaughter and carcass fat proportion (P < 0.01), but there was no effect in bulls. The effect of sire expected progeny difference (EPD) for carcass weight followed the same trends as BCI. Muscularity scores, carcass meat proportion and calculated carcass value increased, whereas scanned fat depth, carcass fat and bone proportions decreased with increasing sire EPD for conformation score. The opposite association was observed for sire EPD for fat score. Results from this study show that selection using the BCI had positive effects on live animal muscularity, carcass meat proportion, proportions of high-value cuts and carcass value in steer progeny, which are desirable traits in beef production.