Improving female fertility (FF) and calf survival (CS) in the beef suckler herd will result inmore calves reared, increased beef production and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissionsper output. To date there has been little improvement in these traits with the industry focusedprimarily on terminal traits coupled with inadequate or absent selection tools available forfertility and survival. This has been to due to the low accuracy at the time of bull selection ofconventional FF estimated breeding values (EBVs) and that previously there have been no CSselection tools. National UK data was used to produce genomic EBVs (GEBVs) for CS andFF traits; age at first calf, calving interval and lifespan. The data showed that on a nationallevel the largest number of heifers calved as three year olds, average first calving interval was424 days, only 47% of cows had more than three calves in a lifetime and 5% of calves do notsurvive past 10 months of age. These findings were common across a number of different UKbeef breeds. The traits were found to be lowly heritable with heritabilities ranging from 0.04for CS to 0.13 for age at first calf. The resulting genetic trends showed that there has been nogenetic improvement in these traits across the beef industry. Comparing the fertility andsurvival trait GEBVs with existing video image analysis (VIA) abattoir carcass trait GEBVsshowed small to moderate antagonistic relationships between the carcass and fertility traits
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production|
|Number of pages||7|
|Volume||Species - Bovine (beef) 2|
|Publication status||Print publication - 2018|
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Incorporating novel data-driven approaches into cattle genetic improvement programmes leads to better animal performance and overall economic gains