Phenotypic and genetic relationships of residual feed intake with performance and ultrasound carcass traits in Brangus heifers
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The objective of this study was to characterize residual feed intake (RFI) and to estimate phenotypic and genetic correlations with performance and ultrasound carcass traits in growing heifers. Four postweaning feed efficiency trials were conducted using 468 Brangus heifers. The complete Brangus pedigree file from Camp Cooley Ranch (Franklin, TX), which included 31,215 animals, was used to generate genetic parameter estimates. The heifer progeny from 223 dams were sired by 36 bulls, whereas the complete pedigree file contained 1,710 sires and 8,191 dams. Heifers were individually fed a roughage-based diet (ME = 1.98 Mcal/kg of DM) using Calan gate feeders for 70 d. Heifer BW was recorded weekly and ultrasound measures of 12th- to 13th-rib fat thickness (BF) and LM area (LMA) obtained at d 0 and 70. Residual feed intake (RFIp) was computed as actual minus predicted DMI, with predicted DMI determined by linear regression of DMI on mid-test BW(0.75) (MBW) and ADG with trial, trial x MBW, and trial x ADG as random effects. Overall means for ADG, DMI, and RFI were 1.01 (SD = 0.15), 9.51 (SD = 1.02), and 0.00 (SD = 0.71) kg/d, respectively. Stepwise regression analysis revealed that inclusion of gain in BF and final LMA into the base model increased the R(2) (0.578 vs. 0.534) and accounted for 9% of the variation in DMI not explained by MBW and ADG (RFIp). Residual feed intake and carcass-adjusted RFI (RFIc) were strongly correlated phenotypically and genetically with DMI and FCR, but not with ADG or MBW. Gain in BF was phenotypically correlated (P < 0.05) with RFIp (0.22), but not with FCR or RFIc; however, final BF was genetically correlated (P < 0.05) with RFIp (0.36) and RFIc (0.39). Gain in LMA was weakly phenotypically correlated with FCR, but not with RFIp or RFIc; however, gain in LMA was strongly genetically correlated with RFIp (0.55) and RFIc (0.77). The Spearman rank correlation between RFIp and RFIc was high (0.96). These results suggest that adjusting RFI for ultrasound carcass composition traits will facilitate selection phenotypically independent of growth, body size, and carcass composition; however, genetic relationships may still exist between RFI and carcass composition.
author list (cited authors)
Lancaster, P. A., Carstens, G. E., Crews, D. H., Welsh, T. H., Forbes, T., Forrest, D. W., ... Rouquette, F. M.