The aim of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for body weights of individually fed beef bulls measured at centralized testing stations in South Africa using random regression models. Weekly body weights of Bonsmara bulls (N = 2919) tested between 1999 and 2003 were available for the analyses. The model included a fixed regression of the body weights on fourth-order orthogonal Legendre polynomials of the actual days on test (7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70, 77, and 84) for starting age and contemporary group effects. Random regressions on fourth-order orthogonal Legendre polynomials of the actual days on test were included for additive genetic effects and additional uncorrelated random effects of the weaning-herd-year and the permanent environment of the animal. Residual effects were assumed to be independently distributed with heterogeneous variance for each test day. Variance ratios for additive genetic, permanent environment and weaning-herd-year for weekly body weights at different test days ranged from 0.26 to 0.29, 0.37 to 0.44 and 0.26 to 0.34, respectively. The weaning-herd-year was found to have a significant effect on the variation of body weights of bulls despite a 28-day adjustment period. Genetic correlations amongst body weights at different test days were high, ranging from 0.89 to 1.00. Heritability estimates were comparable to literature using multivariate models. Therefore, random regression model could be applied in the genetic evaluation of body weight of individually fed beef bulls in South Africa.
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