Using growth and body composition to determine weight at maturity in Nellore cattle Academic Article uri icon


  • The aim of the present study was to estimate the relationships among water, crude protein (CP), ether extract (EE) and ash in the empty bodyweight (EBW), and the soft tissue and bone and, moreover, to determine an objective method to define weight at maturity in Nellore cattle. A dataset containing carcass and body compositions of 249 animals from 11 experiments was developed. There were 63 bulls, 105 steers, and 81 heifers where all animals were purebred Nellore, aged between zero and 24 months. The contents of water, CP and ash in the EBW were predicted by non-linear regressions, whereas an exponential model was used to predict EE. In addition, the content of CP was predicted on a fat-free dry matter (FFDM) basis, and maturity was defined as the point when no significant accretion of CP in the FFDM was observed. The soft tissue water (STW) was regressed on logistic Gompertz functions, and segmented regression models, whereas the analysis of bone chemical composition in the EBW was conducted using an exponential model. The gender effect was not significant (P > 0.05) for EBW and EE; therefore, this effect was not included in the analysis of FFDM. The exponential model suggests that Nellore cattle reached maturity at ~445 kg and the segmented regression model suggested that maturity was reached at 429 kg. A significant relationship between the concentration of STW and soft tissue EE (STEE) was observed (STEE = 0.920 1.147 STW; r2 = 0.96, mean square error = 1.01), but the soft tissue was not a good predictor of maturity, because it is dependent on the diet. Analysis of bone chemical composition showed that EE, water and ash become constant between 400 and 500 kg of EBW, and that CP in bones was constant at 19.1% of EBW. These data also suggested that bone composition could be a good predictor of maturity; however, with the high variability in our dataset, it was not possible to determine an EBW at which these components became constant with a reliable precision. We concluded that Nellore cattle reach maturity at ~437 kg of EBW and that CP in the FFDM and CP, water and ash in bones are good predictors of maturity, whereas soft tissue composition is not a useful predictor of maturity.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Marcondes, M. I., Tedeschi, L. O., Valadares Filho, S., Costa e Silva, L. F., & da Silva, A. L.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Marcondes, Marcos Inacio||Tedeschi, Luis Orlindo||Valadares Filho, Sebastiao de Campos||Costa e Silva, Luiz Fernando||da Silva, Alex Lopes

publication date

  • January 2016