Genetic parameters were estimated for body weight at scanning (SCW) and live animal ultrasound measures of rump fat thickness (P8FT), rib fat thickness (RBFT), rib eye-muscle area (REA) and intramuscular fat percentage (IMF) for South African Angus beef cattle. A multiple-trait animal model was used to estimate genetic parameters using the Residual Maximum Likelihood procedure (REML). Ultrasound data was used on 1 122 animals that participated in the South African National Beef Cattle Improvement Scheme. The fixed effects that were significant included contemporary group, sex and age of the animal at scanning. Random effects considered were the direct additive genetic effect and the residual. Heritability estimates were 0.38 ± 0.08, 0.34 ± 0.06, 0.33 ± 0.05, 0.32 ± 0.06 and 0.38 ± 0.06 for SCW, P8FT, RBFT, REA and IMF respectively. Genetic correlation between SCW and REA was high (0.79 ± 0.07). Genetic correlations with SCW were 0.24 ± 0.14 for P8FT, 0.25 ± 0.12 for RBFT and 0.29 ± 0.11 for IMF. Measures of body fat were genetically highly correlated with one another, with correlations ranging from 0.71 to 0.99. The magnitude of heritability estimates obtained in the current study indicates that genetic improvement for ultrasound indicators of carcass traits should be effective. However, the indirect selection of carcass traits using ultrasound data, should consider the antagonistic genetic relationship between subcutaneous and intramuscular fat.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology