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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Genotype by environment interaction for growth due to altitude in United States Angus cattle1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 90 No. 7, p. 2152-2158
    Received: June 13, 2011
    Accepted: Jan 12, 2012
    Published: January 20, 2015

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. J. L. Williams*,
  2. J. K. Bertrand*,
  3. I. Misztal* and
  4. M. Łukaszewicz 2
  1. *Animal and Dairy Science Department, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-2771
    †Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Jastrzębiec, 05-552 Magdalenka, Poland


The objectives of this study were to determine if sires perform consistently across altitude and to quantify the genetic relationship between growth and survival at differing altitudes. Data from the American Angus Association included weaning weight (WW) adjusted to 205 (n = 77,771) and yearling weight adjusted to 365 (n = 39,450) d of age from 77,771 purebred Angus cattle born in Colorado between 1972 and 2007. Postweaning gain (PWG) was calculated by subtracting adjusted WW from adjusted yearling weight. Altitude was assigned to each record based upon the zip code of each herd in the database. Records for WW and PWG were each split into 2 traits measured at low and high altitude, with the records from medium altitude removed from the data due to inconsistencies between growth performance and apparent culling rate. A binary trait, survival (SV), was defined to account for censored records at yearling for each altitude. It was assumed that, at high altitude, individuals missing a yearling weight either died or required relocation to a lower altitude predominantly due to brisket disease, a condition common at high altitude. Model 1 considered each WW and PWG measured at 2 altitudes as separate traits. Model 2 treated PWG and SV measured as separate traits due to altitude. Models included the effects of weaning contemporary group, age of dam, animal additive genetic effects, and residual. Maternal genetic and maternal permanent environmental effects were included for WW. Heritability estimates for WW in Model 1 were 0.28 and 0.26 and for PWG were 0.26 and 0.19 with greater values in low altitude. Genetic correlations between growth traits measured at different altitude were moderate in magnitude: 0.74 for WW and 0.76 for PWG and indicate possibility of reranking of sires across altitude. Maternal genetic correlation between WW at varying altitude of 0.75 also indicates these may be different traits. In Model 2, heritabilities were 0.14 and 0.27 for PWG and 0.36 and 0.47 for SV. Genetic correlation between PWG measured at low and high altitude was 0.68. Favorable genetic correlations were estimated between SV and PWG within and between altitudes, suggesting that calves with genetics for increased growth from weaning to yearling also have increased genetic potential for SV. Genetic evaluations of PWG in different altitudes should consider preselection of the data, by using a censoring trait, like survivability to yearling.

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