Evaluation of the Criollo breed Romosinuano as purebred and crossbred cows with Brahman and Angus in Florida: I. Reproduction and parturition.
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The objectives of this work were to compare reproduction and parturition traits of the Criollo breed Romosinuano as straightbred and crossbred cows with Angus and Brahman, to estimate heterosis and direct and maternal genetic breed effects, and to describe calf loss, cow removals from the project, the occurrence of calving difficulty, inadequate calf vigor at birth, and udder problems by cow breed groups. Cows (n = 404) were born from 2002 to 2005. After their first exposure to bulls as young cows, in all subsequent breeding seasons crossbred cows were bred to bulls of the third breed, and straightbred cows were bred to bulls of the other two breeds. Calving records (n = 1,484) from 2005 to 2011 were used to create calving and weaning rate and calving interval (excluding the interval between 2 and 3 yr of age). Final models for these traits included sire breed-dam breed interaction, cow age within year, and random animal effects. Heterosis estimates for Romosinuano-Brahman calving and weaning rate were 0.06 0.02 and 0.07 0.03 (P < 0.05); those for Brahman-Angus were twice as large (0.13 0.03 and 0.14 0.03, respectively; P < 0.001). Estimates of Brahman direct effects on calving and weaning rate were -0.12 0.04 and -0.14 0.05 (P < 0.05); however, Angus direct effects were beneficial for both traits (0.1 0.05, P < 0.05). The effect of heterosis was to reduce calving interval by -49.2 9.9 and -37.2 9.7 d for Romosinuano-Brahman and Brahman-Angus, respectively (P < 0.001). Romosinuano and F1 cows sired by Romosinuano and out of Angus dams had the most occurrences of difficult births as a proportion of cows that calved (0.028 and 0.025, P = 0.04). Angus-sired crossbred cows and Brahman cows had the most occurrences of udder problems as a proportion of lactating cows (0.14 to 0.21, P < 0.04). There were more Brahman-sired cows that died or were culled as a proportion of those cows that began the project (0.1 to 0.28, P < 0.02) than cows in the other breed groups. Romosinuano-Brahman and Romosinuano-Angus cow performance was acceptable, but for most traits, those pairs of breeds had lower heterosis than Brahman-Angus.