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J Anim Sci. 2010 Feb;88(2):517-22. doi: 10.2527/jas.2009-2022. Epub 2009 Nov 6.

Genetic evaluation of Angus cattle for carcass marbling using ultrasound and genomic indicators.

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USDA, ARS, Miles City, MT 59301, USA.


The objectives were to estimate genetic parameters needed to elucidate the relationships of a molecular breeding value (MBV) for marbling, intramuscular fat (IMF) of yearling bulls measured with ultrasound, and marbling score (MRB) of slaughtered steers, and to assess the utility of MBV and IMF in predicting the breeding value for MRB. Records for MRB (n = 38,296) and IMF (n = 6,594) were from the American Angus Association database used for national cattle evaluation. A total of 1,006 records of MBV were used in this study. (Co)variance components were estimated with ASREML, fitting an animal model with fixed contemporary groups for MRB and IMF similar to those used in the Angus national genetic evaluation. The overall mean was the only fixed effect included in the model for MBV. Heritability estimates for carcass measures were 0.48 +/- 0.03, 0.31 +/- 0.03, and 0.98 +/- 0.05 for MRB, IMF, and MBV, respectively. Genetic correlations of IMF and MBV with MRB were 0.56 +/- 0.09 and 0.38 +/- 0.10, respectively. The genetic correlation between IMF and MBV was 0.80 +/- 0.22. These results indicate the MBV evaluated may yield a greater genetic advance of approximately 20% when used as an indicator trait for genetic prediction of MRB compared with IMF. However, neither of these indicators alone provides sufficient information to produce highly accurate prediction of breeding value for the economically relevant trait MRB. Given that the goal is a highly accurate prediction of true breeding value for MRB, results of this work point to the need to 1) continue progeny testing, and 2) continue increasing the genetic correlation between the MBV and MRB.

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