Research Article

Phenotypic and genetic parameters compared during repeated measures of longissimus muscle area and subcutaneous fat thickness in Nelore cattle

Published: November 29, 2011
Genet. Mol. Res. 10 (4) : 2944-2952 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4238/2011.November.29.5
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Abstract

Real-time ultrasound is currently used for in vivo carcass evaluation of beef cattle. We estimated heritability and repeatability coefficients for ultrasound-measured carcass traits in Nelore cattle. We measured longissimus muscle area, backfat thickness, and rump fat thickness in male and female animals ranging in age from 10 to 26 months. The variance components were estimated by single-trait analysis using the derivative-free restricted maximum likelihood method, under an animal model. The complete data file included 3077 records of 1172 animals born between 2003 and 2008. Two analyses were performed using a repeatability model: a) all records of longissimus muscle area, backfat thickness, and rump fat thickness of animals aged 10 to 26 months, and b) considering two age periods (11 to 17 and 18 to 24 months). The heritability estimates ranged from 0.33 to 0.46 for longissimus muscle area, from 0.20 to 0.26 for backfat, and from 0.26 to 0.29 for rump fat, demonstrating that direct selection for these traits can provide genetic gain. The repeatability estimates were moderate, ranging from 0.42 to 0.73. The highest repeatability estimates were obtained for longissimus muscle area in both the first (0.70) and second (0.73) analyses. The repeatability estimates suggest that ultrasound measures are precise; higher precision was obtained for longissimus muscle area than for subcutaneous fat thickness. The latter could be obtained during periods of greater feed availability to increase precision.

Real-time ultrasound is currently used for in vivo carcass evaluation of beef cattle. We estimated heritability and repeatability coefficients for ultrasound-measured carcass traits in Nelore cattle. We measured longissimus muscle area, backfat thickness, and rump fat thickness in male and female animals ranging in age from 10 to 26 months. The variance components were estimated by single-trait analysis using the derivative-free restricted maximum likelihood method, under an animal model. The complete data file included 3077 records of 1172 animals born between 2003 and 2008. Two analyses were performed using a repeatability model: a) all records of longissimus muscle area, backfat thickness, and rump fat thickness of animals aged 10 to 26 months, and b) considering two age periods (11 to 17 and 18 to 24 months). The heritability estimates ranged from 0.33 to 0.46 for longissimus muscle area, from 0.20 to 0.26 for backfat, and from 0.26 to 0.29 for rump fat, demonstrating that direct selection for these traits can provide genetic gain. The repeatability estimates were moderate, ranging from 0.42 to 0.73. The highest repeatability estimates were obtained for longissimus muscle area in both the first (0.70) and second (0.73) analyses. The repeatability estimates suggest that ultrasound measures are precise; higher precision was obtained for longissimus muscle area than for subcutaneous fat thickness. The latter could be obtained during periods of greater feed availability to increase precision.