South African Journal of Animal Science
On-line version ISSN 2221-4062
Print version ISSN 0375-1589
BEFFA, L.M.; VAN WYK, J.B. and ERASMUS, G.J.. Long-term selection experiment with Afrikaner cattle 2: Genetic parameters and genotype x environment interaction for calf growth traits. S. Afr. j. anim. sci. [online]. 2009, vol.39, n.2, pp.98-105. ISSN 2221-4062.
A selection and line x environment interaction study with grade Afrikaner cattle was established in 1956 at Matopos Research Station, Zimbabwe. Two selection lines of 100 cows each were reared in different management environments. The non-supplemented (NS) line relied on the range throughout the year and was mated to calve with the onset of the rains (December to February). The supplemented (S) line was offered protein-rich supplements during the dry season and mated to calve prior to the onset of the rains (October to December). In 1976, lines were sub-divided into 75 cows each, where one sub-line remained within each environment as a control; the remaining sub-lines were interchanged between environments. Bulls were selected on weaning weight within control lines, while replacement heifers were selected on weight at mating within sub-line. Data recorded over approximately six generations of selection (40 years) was analyzed. The direct heritability estimates were moderate for birth weight (0.4), but low (0.1 to 0.2) for the other traits, similarly maternal heritabilities were low (0.1 to 0.2). Permanent environmental effects due to dam were moderate (0.3) for weights at 205 days, weaning and at 12 months, and was still an important effect at 18 months. Relatively large negative (-0.4) direct-maternal genetic correlations were indicated for weaning and yearling weights. There were indications that all post-weaning weight traits evaluated were closely related giving rise to their joint inclusion in joint multivariate analysis. There were no indications of line x environment interactions, however, interaction of sire x year was important for all the traits highlighting the tremendous year to year variations experienced in the sub-tropics. There is a need to evaluate selection for genotypic stability, particularly for the more extensive farming environments.
Keywords : Sanga; beef cattle; sub-tropics; direct heritability; maternal effects; correlations.