Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Animal Science]]> vol. 44 num. 5 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Research and development on climate change and greenhouse gases in support of climate-smart livestock production and a vibrant industry</b>]]> Climate change represents a feedback-loop in which livestock production both contributes to the problem and suffers from the consequences. The impact of global warming and continued, uncontrolled release of greenhouse gasses (GHG) has twofold implications for the livestock industry, and consequently food security. Firstly, the continuous increase in ambient temperature is predicted to have a direct effect on the animal, as well as on food and nutrition security, due to changes associated with temperature itself, relative humidity, rainfall distribution in time and space, altered disease distribution, changes in the ecosystem and biome composition. Secondly, the responsibility of livestock production is to limit the release of greenhouse gases (GHG) or the carbon footprint, in order to ensure future sustainability. This can be done by implementing new or adapted climate-smart production systems, the use of known and new technologies to turn waste into assets, and by promoting sustainable human diets with low environmental impacts. The following elements, which are related to livestock production and climate change, are discussed in this paper: (1) restoring the value of grasslands/rangelands, (2) pastoral risk management and decision support systems, (3) improved production efficiency, (4) global warming and sustainable livestock production, (5) the disentanglement between food and nutritional needs, focusing on nutrient rich core foods, (6) GHG from livestock and carbon sequestration, and (7) water and waste management. No single organization (or industry) within South Africa can perform this research and the implementation thereof on its own. The establishment of a (virtual) centre of excellence in climate-smart livestock production and the environment for the livestock industries, with the objective to share research expertise and information, build capacity and conduct research and development studies, should be a priority. <![CDATA[<b>Sustainable crossbreeding systems of beef cattle in the era of climate change</b>]]> Beef cattle are unique, because they not only suffer from climate change, but they also contribute to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). Mitigation and adaptation strategies are therefore needed. An effective way to reduce the carbon footprint from beef cattle would be to reduce the numbers and increase the production per animal, thereby improving their productivity. Sustainable crossbreeding systems can be an effective way to reduce GHG, as it has been shown to increase production. There are a wide range of different cattle breeds in South Africa which can be optimally utilized for effective and sustainable crossbreeding. This paper reports on the effects of crossbreeding on the kilogram calf weaned per Large Stock Unit (kgC/LSU) for 29 genotypes. These genotypes were formed by crossing Afrikaner (A) cows with Brahman (B), Charolais (C), Hereford (H) and Simmentaler (S) bulls and by back-crossing the F1 cows to the sire lines. A LSU is the equivalent of an ox of 450 kg with a daily weight gain of 500 g on grass pastures with a mean digestible energy (DE) content of 55% and a requirement of 75 MJ metabolizable energy (ME). Crossbreeding with A as dam line increased the kgC/LSU on average by 8 kg (+6%) - with the CA cross producing the most kgC/LSU (+8%) above that of the AA. The BA dam in crosses with C, H and S, increased kgC/LSU on average by 26 kg (+18%) above that of the AA dam, with the H x BA cross, producing the most kgC/LSU (+21%). The BA, CA, HA and SA F1 dam lines, back-crossed to the sire line breeds, increased kgC/LSU on average by 30 kg (21%), 21 kg (15%), 19kg (13%) and 26 kg (18%) above the that of the AA, respectively. The big differences between breeds in kgC/LSU provide the opportunity to facilitate effective crossbreeding that can be useful in the era of climate change. From this study it is clear that cow productivity can be increased by up to 21% through properly designed, sustainable crossbreeding systems, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of beef production. <![CDATA[<b>Methane production in different breeds, grazing different pastures or fed a total mixed ration, as measured by a Laser Methane Detector</b>]]> Agriculture is responsible for 5% to 10% of the global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Livestock contribute about 65% of agricultural GHG and enteric fermentation accounts for 90% of this. The global warming potential of CH4 is known to be 23 times more than that of carbon dioxide, resulting in it being a significant role player in the greenhouse gas family. The laser methane detector (LMD) is an instrument that has the potential to measure enteric CH4 emission from livestock under normal husbandry activities. This study was aimed at evaluating the efficiency and results, when using the LMD to measure CH4 production under normal production conditions. Twelve heifers, four each from the Bonsmara, Nguni and Jersey breeds, were subjected to grazing natural veld, forage sorghum under irrigation, oats pasture under irrigation or a total mixed ration. Measurements were taken late afternoon (18:00) when the animals were ruminating. Four repeated measurements, lasting 60 seconds each, were taken on 10 consecutive days on each of the production systems. The animals were adapted for a period of 14 days on the specific feed, before the measurements were taken. The Jersey heifers produced significantly less CH4 than the Bonsmara and Nguni on natural veld, with no significant differences between breeds on the forage sorghum. On natural veld the heifers generated 48% more CH4. These results thus indicate that the LMD produce sensible and repeatable measurements that can be interpreted in respect of CH4 production by cattle. The next step will be to increase the number of breeds, numbers per breed, and feeding strategies over all seasons in order to validate and build up a baseline data set on the use of the LMD to measure CH4 emissions from cattle under different grazing conditions. <![CDATA[<b>Antagonism in the carbon footprint between beef and dairy production systems</b>]]> Primary beef cattle farming in South Africa is largely extensive, whereas dairy farming is based on both total mixed ration and pasture production systems. Under natural rangeland conditions, decomposition of manure is aerobic, which produces carbon dioxide (CO2), part of which is absorbed by the regrowth of vegetation rather than released into the atmosphere, and water (H2O) as end products. Thus the cow releases methane (CH4) and the manure CO2. This is in contrast to intensive cow-calf systems in large parts of Europe and North America, where large quantities of manure are stockpiled and undergo anaerobic decomposition and produce CH4. Thus both the cow and the manure release CH4, which result in a higher carbon footprint than the extensive cow-calf systems. In dairy farming, increasing cow efficiency through intensive feeding (same kg milk output by fewer animals) can reduce farm CH4 production by up to 15%. In addition, when differences in productivity are accounted for, pasture systems require more resources (land, feed, water, etc.) per unit of milk produced and the carbon footprint is greater than that of intensive systems. This raises the question as to why the carbon footprint of intensive dairy cow production systems is less, but the carbon footprint of intensive beef cow-calf production systems is higher. The explanation lies in the differences in production levels. In the case of beef cows the weight of the intensive cows will be ± 30% higher than that of the extensive cows, and the weaning weight of their calves will also differ by ± 30%. In the case of dairy cows the weight of the intensive cows will be ± 20% higher, but their milk production will be ± 60% higher. The higher increase in production (milk) of intensive dairy cows, compared to the increase in production (calf weight) of intensive beef cows, explains the antagonism in the carbon footprint between different beef and dairy production systems. Unfortunately, carbon sequestration estimates have been neglected and thus the quantitative effects of these differences are not known. <![CDATA[<b>Milk production of dairy cows as affected by the length of the preceding dry period</b>]]> The objective of the study was to determine the effect of the duration of the dry period (DP) on the milk yield and milk composition during the following lactation. Milk performance records of 561 Holstein cows, with a previous DP from the Elsenburg Research Farm obtained from the National Milk Recording Scheme, were used in the study. Four groups of dairy cows were identified, based on the duration of their dry period, i.e. cows with a DP of less than 60 days, DP of 61 to 90 days, DP of 91 to 120 days and DP of more than 121 days. The number of records for each group was 76, 162, 83 and 240 lactations, respectively. An ANOVA was conducted using the Generalized Linear Model of SAS to compare milk yield and milk composition according to the DP length. Almost 43% of cows had a DP longer than 121 days, while less than 14% of cows had a DP of less than 60 days. The milk yield was positively affected by DP length. Cows with a DP of less than 60 days produced less milk than cows with longer (more than 61 days) dry periods, e.g. 6462 ± 321 vs. 7393 ± 99 kg. Results were similar for cows in their second and fourth parity. In addition, the milk composition of cows was also affected by DP length, i.e. higher fat and protein levels in the milk from cows with a short DP. Cows in the third lactation with a DP above 121 days produced more milk than the other DP groups. However, the milk composition of cows in the third lactation was not affected by DP length. A DP of less than 60 days reduced milk yield, while an extended DP of more than 121 days would be costly for the dairy farmer even though milk yield was higher. A long dry period may also result due to an excess body condition and calving complications during the subsequent lactation. <![CDATA[<b>The effect of lucerne <i>(Medicago sativa)</i> hay quality on milk production and composition of Jersey cows</b>]]> The influence of lucerne hay quality on the milk production potential and milk composition of Jersey cows was investigated. Three different grades of lucerne hay (Prime, Grade 1, Grade 2; selected according to the New Lucerne Quality Index) were included in a total mixed ration (TMR) and fed to lactating cows. The three dietary treatments consisted of the same basal diet (53% lucerne hay, 7% wheat straw and 40% concentrate), differing only with respect to the lucerne hay quality. Fifty-seven lactating Jersey cows (389 ± 39.07 kg) were selected and blocked according to production potential (milk production, days in lactation, as well as lactation number) and randomly allocated to each of the dietary treatments (n = 19 animals per treatment). After a dietary adaptation period of 14 days, each treatment received their respective diets for the remaining period of 54 days. Average dry matter intake (DMI) and individual milk production was measured on a daily basis and production parameters were calculated accordingly. Milk composition samples were collected every second week. Grade 2 lucerne hay significantly decreased the voluntary DMI of the cows. However, the Prime lucerne hay significantly increased the metabolizable energy intake (MEI), as well as both the protein and milk urea nitrogen (MUN) content of the Jersey milk, compared to the Grade 1 and Grade 2 treatments. In contrast, the efficiency with which ME is utilized for milk production was significantly decreased following Prime lucerne hay inclusion. Milk yield as such was not affected by dietary treatment. Results of the present study seem to indicate that lucerne hay quality does affect the production performance, milk composition and efficiency of energy utilized for milk production purposes of Jersey cows. <![CDATA[<b>The profitability and production of a beef herd on transitional <i>Cymbopogon- Themeda</i> veld, receiving three different levels of lick supplementation - Preliminary results</b>]]> The importance of containing costs through the optimal utilization of feed emphasizes the need to optimize, rather than maximize, the rate of reproduction. It is, however, unknown which lick supplementation regimen, provided to an extensive beef herd on mixed veld, could bring about the most profitable and efficient farming enterprise. The aim of the study was thus to determine what lick supplementation regime would be most profitable in an extensive beef production system maintained on transitional Cymbopogon-Themeda veld. The different lick supplementation regimens offered differed in crude protein (CP) content, percentage non-degradable protein (NDP), metabolisable energy (ME) content, and recommended daily intake. A herd of Drakensberger cows and heifers was divided into three treatment groups (Treatment A, Treatment B and Treatment C), with 70 animals (n = 70) per treatment group. The CP, NDP, ME content of the licks provided in Treatment A were higher than those provided in Treatment B and C, while the CP, NDP, ME content of the licks provided in Treatment B were higher than those provided to Treatment C, but lower than those provided to Treatment A. The first two years' (2011 - 2012 and 2012 - 2013) preliminary results indicate no significant differences in parameters that affect cow herd performance (weaning weight, cow herd pregnancy rate, intercalving period) between treatments. However, substantial cost differences in the lick supplied between treatments was recorded; thus, affecting profitability. Significant differences between treatments in the pregnancy rates of the first-calf heifers was recorded in the second year, and indicated that providing protein in a drought during summer to first calf heifers may increase the calving rate and hence profitability. <![CDATA[<b>The effect of dietary lipid saturation and antioxidant type on the performance of finishing lambs</b>]]> The effect on production performance of a synthetic or natural antioxidant and lipid saturation in the finishing diets of lambs was investigated. The four dietary treatments consisted of the same basal diet (187 g CP, 355 g NDF, and 71 g EE per kg DM), differing only in regard to the supplemental lipid source (30 g/kg of either saturated beef tallow or unsaturated soybean oil) and type of antioxidant (125 g/ton of either a synthetic or natural antioxidant) included, in a 2 x 2 factorial design experiment. Eighty-four S.A. Mutton Merino lambs (27.64 ± 1.72 kg) were randomly allocated to the four dietary treatments (n = 21 lambs per treatment) and subdivided into 7 replicates per treatment (n = 3 lambs per replicate). After a dietary adaptation period of 8 days, all lambs received the respective experimental diets for the remaining period (41 days). The average daily DM feed intake, weight gain and feed efficiency was calculated accordingly. No significant differences in DMI, ADG and the efficiency with which ingested feed were utilized (FCR), were recorded for the treatments. However, the addition of unsaturated soybean oil to the diet significantly increased the efficiency with which the ME of the diet was utilized. In contrast with the natural antioxidant, the inclusion of unsaturated soybean oil in the diet containing a synthetic antioxidant, resulted in a significant lower MEI by the lambs - indicating that a lipid x antioxidant interaction occurred. Results of the present study seem to indicate that dietary lipid saturation in the finishing diets of lambs had no influence on their growth performance. However, a more efficient utilisation of ME in the finishing diet containing unsaturated soybean oil, compared to the saturated beef tallow, did occur. <![CDATA[<b>The influence of the inside diameter of the coring probe on the chemical composition of lucerne hay samples</b>]]> The obtaining of a representative sample is crucial for the application of an accurate and uniform lucerne hay grading system in South Africa. There is currently limited data available on the effect of the inside diameter of the coring probe on the chemical composition of the lucerne hay samples. A study was therefore undertaken to determine the influence of the inside diameter of a coring probe on the chemical composition of unground lucerne hay samples using the Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) technique. Ten lucerne bales (total 40), randomly chosen from four different grades (Prime, Grade 1, 2 and 3 according to the National Lucerne Trust quality and grading system), were sampled with both a large probe (35 mm inside diameter and 520 mm long) and a small probe (12 mm inside diameter and 450 mm long). The samples with each probe were taken at approximately the same location in the bale. The samples were analysed with the NIRS for crude protein (CP), acid detergent fibre (ADF), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), ash and lignin. The model to calculate the new lucerne quality index (NLQI) from the ADF, ash and lignin, according to the National Lucerne Trust quality and grading scheme was used. Regression analysis revealed a significant relationship (r²) between the results of the large and small probe namely CP = 0.77, ADF = 0.95, NDF = 0.94, ash = 0.92, lignin = 0.87 and NLQI = 0.97. Sampling of lucerne hay with a large and small probe was irrelevant as resulted in similar chemical composition results. <![CDATA[<b>The effect of dietary lipid sources on layer fertility and hatchability</b>]]> This study was conducted to investigate the effect of dietary fatty acids (FA) on the fertility and hatchability of laying hens at the end-of-lay period (69 - 77 weeks of age). Five isoenergetic (12.4 MJ ME/kg DM) and isonitrogenous (170 g CP/kg DM) diets were formulated using different lipid sources (30 g/kg inclusion) to manipulate the dietary FA profile. The control diet was formulated using a 50 : 50 blend of linseed and fish oil, while fish oil was used in the polyunsaturated n-3 treatment. Sunflower oil was used in the polyunsaturated n-6 treatment, while in the mono-unsaturated n-9 diet high oleic acid (HO) sunflower oil was used. Lastly, tallow was used as a lipid source in the saturated FA diet. One hundred and twenty five hens (n = 25/treatment) and 50 cockerels (n = 10/treatment) of the Hy-Line Silver-Brown genotype were randomly allocated to the five dietary treatments at 20 weeks of age. From 69 weeks of age, hens were inseminated with 0.06 mL undiluted semen from cockerels within the same dietary treatment. Between 71 and 78 weeks of age (49 days) a total of 588 eggs-per-treatment were collected, individually marked (date and hen number) and incubated in a single-stage still-air incubator. Eggs were candled on D7 and D14 to determine embryonic mortalities and a 24 h window for hatching was allowed (D21 + 24 h). Although the fish oil treatment resulted in the lowest egg weights (59.3 g) and fertility (84.6%), it recorded the highest hatchability (76%). In contrast, the sunflower oil treatment recorded the lowest hatchability (58.2%) of all treatments, despite its high egg fertility (89.6%). Results of the study suggest that the dietary fatty acid content, in particular the n-3 and n-6 levels, need critical consideration in terms of concentration and ratio in the formulation of breeder diets to limit embryonic mortalities during incubation. <![CDATA[<b>The effect of different dietary vitamin and mineral levels on certain production parameters, including egg shell characteristics of breeding ostriches</b>]]> Earlier studies on breeding birds indicated no effect of dietary energy-content on feed intake. This observation is contradictory to results for other animals and/or poultry where feed intake decreases with an increase in dietary energy level. Literature revealed that a lack of certain nutrients may cause animals to consume more feed than necessary to satisfy their nutrient requirements for these limiting nutrients. In this study eight diet groups were evaluated. A standard commercial diet plus one of the following supplements: (i) Standard diet without a vitamin and mineral premix pack (control diet), (ii) with a normal premix pack, (iii) with normal vitamin and 2 x trace elements (M x 2), (iv) with normal trace elements and 2 x vitamins, (v) with a normal premix pack and limestone added as calcium source; (vi) with a normal premix pack and monocalcium phosphate added as phosphorus source, (vii) with a normal premix pack and soybean oilcake added as crude protein source, (viii) with a normal premix pack and linseed added as a fatty acid source. Significant differences were recorded in the quantity of feed ingested by birds between the diet with surplus minerals (M x 2) (Group 3) (2.3 ± 0.3 kg/bird/day), the diet with no vitamins and minerals added (Group 1) (2.7 ± 0.3 kg/bird/day) and the diet with added fatty acids in the form of linseed (Group 5) (2.9 ± 0.5 kg/bird/day). This indicates the possibility that ostriches may adjust feed intake to satisfy their mineral requirements. No statistically significant relationship was found between the thickness and strength of the shell. Significant differences in shell strength (mean value of 154.7, 109.9, 140.4, 142.7, 153.0, 143.4, 138.4 and 151.1 N/cm², respectively) were found between all treatments, but no specific pattern could be identified. Results further revealed no effect of dietary treatment on egg production, dead-in-shell eggs (DIS), infertile eggs or chick production. Further experiments that include certain dietary treatments during the five months rest period are currently being done to quantify the effect of the addition of minerals and vitamins during this period on the production of breeding ostriches. <![CDATA[<b>Influence of electrical stimulation on carcass and meat quality of Kosher and conventionally slaughtered cattle</b>]]> In a previous study regarding the effects of Kosher and conventional slaughter techniques on carcass and meat quality of cattle, it was speculated that electrical stimulation may have affected some of the meat qualities. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the effects of electrical stimulation (ES) and non-electrical stimulation (NES) on key carcass and meat quality attributes of cattle slaughtered by Kosher vs. conventional slaughter methods. Carcass pH and temperature profiles over a 24 h post mortem (pm) period, meat shear force and water holding capacity were investigated in feedlot type cattle of comparable weights and breed types. Results showed that the combined effects of slaughter methods did not influence the meat quality attributes, but there were differences within the slaughter groups. The effect of ES on carcass pH lasted longer within the conventionally slaughtered group (12 h), than in the Kosher slaughter group (6 h). Muscle samples from the ES groups for both slaughter methods were more tender. Electrical stimulation also had a significant effect on the cooking loss from Kosher meat, while there was no significant difference in meat from the conventional slaughter methods. The results show that ES influences certain meat and carcass quality attributes of cattle, based on the way cattle were slaughtered. <![CDATA[<b>Conception rate and fecundity of Dohne Merino ewes in a continuous mating system</b>]]> A study was conducted to evaluate the conception rate and fecundity of Dohne Merino ewes in an intensive sheep production system, where continuous mating was applied. The study was conducted at the Kromme Rhee research farm. Ninety-two 3-year-old Dohne Merino ewes were used in the trial and allocated to irrigated-lucerne equal-sized paddocks of 0.85 ha. Rotational grazing was applied at a stocking rate of 15 ewes per hectare, with rams left with the ewes continuously. A self-formulated creep feed and lick was provided to the lambs and ewes, respectively, on an ad libitum basis. The experimental animals were weighed every second week and lambs were weaned at approximately 120 days of age. The statistical procedures indicated that 65.4% of the ewes conceived within 81 days after lambing. Analyses of variance (ANOVA) were performed on the observed variables. The Shapiro-Wilk test was performed to test for normality and Student's-t least significant differences (LSD) were calculated at the 5% level of confidence, to compare the treatment means. Regression analyses were performed to establish the contribution of each variable to the predicted "days after lambing". The stepwise selection method was executed in order to select the variables that significantly contributed to the predicted "days after lambing". There was no significant difference in "days after lambing" and conception weight between ewes that produced single, twin or triplet lambs. Results also indicated that a more rapid breeding system is achievable on irrigated pastures. However, the sustainability of such a system needs to be tested further to determine the effect of the accelerated system on the productive lifespan of the ewes. <![CDATA[<b>Reproduction performance of beef cattle mated naturally following synchronization in the Central Bushveld bioregion of South Africa</b>]]> The estimated calving percentage of beef cattle is 62% in the commercial sector of South Africa. Fertility is regarded as the main component influencing total herd efficiency in beef cattle. If the long calving seasons can be shortened and the calving percentage increased, more and heavier calves with a more uniform age can be weaned. Cows calving earlier in the season also have an extended "recovery period" and have the opportunity to calve in a better body condition during the next season, compared to cows calving late in the season. Cows that calve early also have a better chance of conceiving in the next breeding season and are generally seen as the more fertile animals. Research has been undertaken to evaluate the effect of oestrous synchronization followed by natural mating on the calving rate and calving distribution of multiparous beef cows. In this trial Bonsmara cows were mated naturally after synchronization over a period of four years (2009 - 2012) in an extensive production system on natural sour-mixed bushveld. The synchronized cows calved earlier during the 2009 calving season and cows in anoestrus started cycling again. The average days-to-calving after the start of the breeding season was 243 days for the synchronized cows and 267 for the non-synchronized cows. The calves born from the synchronized cows were therefore, on average, 24 days older than the calves born from the non-synchronized cows. From 2010 onwards the difference declined and it seems the biggest effect was obtained during the first year of synchronization. <![CDATA[<b>A preliminary investigation into genotype x environment interaction in South African Holstein cattle for reproduction and production traits</b>]]> The purpose of the study was to investigate a possible genotype by environment interaction in first calf South African Holstein cows for both production and reproduction traits. Data from 100 975 cows on a total mixed ration (TMR) and 22 083 pasture based cows were used. These cows were the progeny of 4 391 sires and 84 935 dams produced over a period of 11 generations. Traits analysed were milk production (corrected to a 305-day equivalent) and age at first calving (AFC). Both were recorded over a period of 30 years from 1980 - 2010. Production or AFC in each environment (TMR vs. pasture) was treated as a separate trait. Bivariate analyses, fitting an animal model using the ASREML software, were used to obtain genetic correlations between the traits measured in each environment. The fixed factors included were a concatenation of breeder-keeper-year for both milk production and AFC and age at first calving which was fitted as a linear regression for milk production. The random part consisted of the direct additive effects only. The genetic correlation for milk production measured in the two different environments was 0.90 (0.027) and that of age at first calving 0.28 (0.12). The heritability estimates for milk production were 0.23 (0.008) under the TMR system and 0.32 (0.015) for the pasture based system, while the estimates for AFC were 0.063 (0.005) and 0.055 (0.009), respectively. The rather large-scale effect in the heritability (0.23 - 0.32), as well as the correlation of less than one for milk production between the two environments, indicates that a G x E may exist. However, the low genetic correlation between the two environments for AFC is much more real and indicates that G x E should be taken into account when sire selection is performed. <![CDATA[<b>Genetic diversity in selected stud and commercial herds of the Afrikaner cattle breed</b>]]> The Afrikaner is one of three indigenous cattle breeds found in South Africa. Afrikaner cattle were originally extensively used for crossbreeding purposes and breed development. The objective of this study was to determine the genetic diversity of selected stud and commercial herds from the whole South African Afrikaner population, as well as to determine the genetic structure among these herds. Assignment methods (based on STRUCTURE software) revealed a real structure consisting of four genetic populations (K = 4). Estimates of genetic diversity did not support the hypothesis of significant loss of genetic diversity in any individual Afrikaner herd. Heterozygosity estimates ranged from 0.456 - 0.737 within individual populations, with an overall heterozygosity estimate of 0.568 for the Afrikaner breed. The average number of alleles per locus was regarded as being 2.67 - 7.78, with an average of 5.18 alleles per locus. It could be concluded that a moderate to high degree of variation is still present within the Afrikaner cattle breed, despite the recent decline in numbers of this indigenous breed. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluation of cytoplasmic genetic effects for production and reproduction traits in Afrikaner cattle</b>]]> The influence of cytoplasmic effects on weaning weight (WW) and age at first calving (AFC) were investigated in the South African Afrikaner beef breed. A total of 14 535 AFC records (1974 - 2008) and 68 152 WW records (1974 - 2011) were used in the estimation of variance components. All cows were assigned to different damlines, using the pedigree information available. The model used for WW include direct additive, maternal additive, the covariance between the animal-, permanent maternal environmental-, herd-year-season x sire- and damline effects, while the simplest model which include only direct- and damline effects were used for AFC. The contribution of the cytoplasmic effects to the total variance was negligible (less than 0.5%) for both traits. These results suggest that cytoplasmic effects can be ignored in genetic evaluations of Afrikaner cattle for the traits investigated.