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This article in

  1. Vol. 82 No. 2, p. 351-356
    Received: May 02, 2003
    Accepted: Sept 29, 2003

    3 Corresponding author(s):


Comparison of methods for handling censored records in beef fertility data: Simulation study1

  1. K. A. Donoghue2,
  2. R. Rekaya and
  3. J. K. Bertrand3
  1. Animal and Dairy Science Department, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-2771


A simulation study was conducted to compare methods for handling censored records for days to calving in beef cattle data. Days to calving was defined as the time, in days, between when a bull is turned out in the pasture and the subsequent parturition. Simulated data were generated to have data structure and genetic relationships similar to an available field data set. Records were simulated for 33,176 daughters of 4,238 sires. Data were simulated using a mixed linear model that included the fixed effects of contemporary group and sex of calf, linear and quadratic covariates for age at mating, and random effects of animal and residual error. Two methods for handling censored records were evaluated, and two censoring rates of 12 and 20% were applied to assess the influence of higher censoring rates on inferences. Censored records were assigned penalty values on a within-contemporary group basis under the first method (DCPEN). Under the second method (DCSIM), censored records were drawn from their respective predictive distributions. A Bayesian approach via Gibbs sampling was used to estimate variance components and predict breeding values. Posterior means (PM) and standard deviations (SD) of additive genetic variance for DCPEN at 12 and 20% censoring were 23.2 (3.7) and 21.0 (3.6), respectively, whereas the same estimates for DCSIM at 12 and 20% censoring were 23.7(3.3) and 21.9 (3.4), respectively. In all cases, the true value of the genetic variance was within the high posterior density (HPD) interval (95%). The PM (SD) of residual variance for DCPEN at 12 and 20% censoring were 415.7 (4.7) and 440.0 (4.8) respectively, whereas the same estimates for DCSIM at 12 and 20% censoring were 371.0 (4.3) and 365.4 (4.4), respectively. The true value of the residual variance was within the HPD (95%) for DCSIM, but it was outside this interval for DCPEN at both censoring rates, indicating a systematic bias for this parameter. Bayes Factor and Deviance Information Criteria were used for model comparisons, and both criteria indicated the superiority of the DCSIM method. However, little difference was observed between the two methods for correlations between true breeding values and posterior means of animal effects for sires, indicating that no major reranking of sires would be expected. This finding suggests that either censored data handling technique can be successfully used in a genetic evaluation for days to calving.

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