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Genet Mol Res. 2014 Feb 21;13(3):7013-21. doi: 10.4238/2014.February.21.7.

Use of weaning management group as a random effect for a more robust estimation of genetic parameters for post-weaning traits in Nellore cattle.

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Grupo de Melhoramento Animal, Departamento de Zootecnia, Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa, Ponta Grossa, PR, Brasil
Grupo de Melhoramento Animal e Biotecnologia, Departamento de Ciências Básicas, Universidade de São Paulo, Pirassununga, SP, Brasil.
Friedrich Loeffler Institute, Institute of Farm Animal Genetics, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetic Resources, Neustadt, Germany.


Data from 69,525 animals were used to compare two types of analyses, one of them having the weaning management group (WEMANG) included as an effect in the contemporary group (F_WEMANG) and the other considering the weaning management group as a random effect, not related to the mathematical model (R_WEMANG) for post-weaning traits. The components of (co)variance were estimated for pre-weaning traits (birth weight and weaning weight) and for post-weaning traits [scrotal circumference (SC), weight gain from weaning to 18 months of age (WG) and muscle score (MUSC)] in Nellore cattle, based on a complete animal model. Heritability of SC, WG and MUSC for the F_WEMANG model was equal to 0.46 ± 0.02, 0.38 ± 0.03 and 0.26 ± 0.01, and for the R_WEMANG model it was 0.45 ± 0.02, 0.31 ± 0.03 and 0.25 ± 0.01, respectively. Genetic correlations between all the studied traits varied between 0.07 ± 0.01 and 0.77 ± 0.03 in F_WEMANG and between 0.02 ± 0.01 and 0.76 ± 0.04 in R_WEMANG. The R_ WEMANG model allowed a decrease in the number of contemporary groups as well as an increase in the number of observations per group without significant alterations in heritability coefficients, for the post-weaning traits. Consequently, the analysis became more robust and avoided having contemporary groups with low variability.

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