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J Anim Sci. 2011 Nov;89(11):3394-400. doi: 10.2527/jas.2010-3516. Epub 2011 May 27.

Genetic parameters and genotype x environment interaction for feed efficiency traits in steers fed grower and finisher diets.

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  • 1Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2P5, Canada.


The objective of this study was to examine the genetic parameters and genetic correlations of feed efficiency traits in steers (n = 490) fed grower or finisher diets in 2 feeding periods. A bivariate model was used to estimate phenotypic and genetic parameters using steers that received the grower and finisher diets in successive feeding periods, whereas a repeated animal model was used to estimate the permanent environmental effects. Genetic correlations between the grower-fed and finisher-fed regimens were 0.50 ± 0.48 and 0.78 ± 0.43 for residual feed intake (RFI) and G:F, respectively. The moderate genetic correlation between the 2 feeding regimens may indicate the presence of a genotype × environment interaction for RFI. Permanent environmental effects (expressed in percentage of phenotypic variance) were detected in the grower-fed steers for ADG (38%), DMI (30%), RFI (18%), and G:F (40%) and also in the finisher-fed steers for ADG (28%), DMI (35%), metabolic mid-weight (23%), and RFI (10%). Heritability estimates were 0.08 ± 0.10 and 0.14 ± 0.15 for the grower-fed steers and 0.42 ± 0.16 and 0.40 ± 17 for the finisher-fed steers for RFI and G:F, respectively. The dependency of the RFI on the feeding regimen may have serious implications when selecting animals in the beef industry. Because of the higher cost of grains, feed efficiency in the feedlot might be overemphasized, whereas efficiency in the cow herd and the backgrounding segments may have less emphasis. These results may also favor the retention (for subsequent breeding) of cows whose steers were efficient in the feedlot sector. Therefore, comprehensive feeding trials may be necessary to provide more insight into the mechanisms surrounding genotype × environment interaction in steers.

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