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J Anim Sci. 2007 Oct;85(10):2382-90. Epub 2007 Jun 25.

Genetic and phenotypic relationships of feeding behavior and temperament with performance, feed efficiency, ultrasound, and carcass merit of beef cattle.

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Igenity Livestock Production Business Unit, Merial Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Feeding behavior and temperament may be useful in genetic evaluations either as indicator traits for other economically relevant traits or because the behavior traits may have a direct economic value. We determined the variation in feeding behavior and temperament of beef cattle sired by Angus, Charolais, or Hybrid bulls and evaluated their associations with performance, efficiency, and carcass merit. The behavior traits were daily feeding duration, feeding head down (HD) time, feeding frequency (FF), and flight speed (FS, as a measure of temperament). A pedigree file of 813 animals forming 28 paternal half-sib families with about 20 progeny per sire was used. Performance, feeding behavior, and efficiency records were available on 464 animals of which 381 and 302 had records on carcass merit and flight speed, respectively. Large SE reflect the number of animals used. Direct heritability estimates were 0.28 +/- 0.12 for feeding duration, 0.33 +/- 0.12 for HD, 0.38 +/- 0.13 for FF, and 0.49 +/- 0.18 for FS. Feeding duration had a weak positive genetic (r(g)) correlation with HD (r(g) = 0.25 +/- 0.32) and FS (r(g) = 0.42 +/- 0.26) but a moderate negative genetic correlation with FF (r(g) = -0.40 +/- 0.30). Feeding duration had positive phenotypic (r(p)) and genetic correlations with DMI (r(p) = 0.27; r(g) = 0.56 +/- 0.20) and residual feed intake (RFI; r(p) = 0.49; r(g) = 0.57 +/- 0.28) but was unrelated phenotypically with feed conversion ratio [FCR; which is the reciprocal of the efficiency of growth (G:F)]. Feeding duration was negatively correlated with FCR (r(g) = -0.25 +/- 0.29). Feeding frequency had a moderate to high negative genetic correlation with DMI (r(g) = -0.74 +/- 0.15), FCR (r(g) = -0.52 +/- 0.21), and RFI (r(g) = -0.77 +/- 0.21). Flight speed was negatively correlated phenotypically with DMI (r(p) = -0.35) but was unrelated phenotypically with FCR or RFI. On the other hand, FS had a weak negative genetic correlation with DMI (r(g) = -0.11 +/- 0.26), a moderate genetic correlation with FCR (r(g) = 0.40 +/- 0.26), and a negative genetic correlation with RFI (r(g) = -0.59 +/- 0.45). The results indicate that behavior traits may contribute to the variation in the efficiency of growth of beef cattle, and there are potential correlated responses to selection to improve efficiency. Feeding behavior and temperament may need to be included in the definition of beef cattle breeding goals, and approaches such as the culling of unmanageable cattle and the introduction of correct handling facilities or early life provision of appropriate experiences to improve handling will be useful.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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