Increasing performance is one of the most important measures for improving production efficiency in animal husbandry in general. In the breeding of beef cattle, the daily gain of an animal is a crucial parameter of production efficiency. The higher the daily weight gain, the shorter the fattening period of the animal until slaughter and ultimately the fewer animals that have to be kept for meat production. This in turn is advantageous because fewer resources (feed) have to be used for the animals' conservation needs. This is positive from an economic point of view for the animal owner and also from an environmental point of view. The meat performance (daily increase) is a parameter with medium heritability, which can be used for breeding. In Germany there is a breeding value estimation on meat performance (RZF) for the breeds Angus, Blonde d' Aquitaine, Charolais, Simmental, Hereford, Limousin, Salers and Uckermärker breed.
The following information characteristics are used in the breeding value estimation:
- birth weight
- 200-day weight (90 -280 days)
- 365-day weight (281 -500 days)
- 200 days muscle development (90 -280 days)
- 365 days muscle development (281 -500 days)
The breeding value estimation is done with a BLUP animal model. The decisive characteristic of a BLUP breeding value estimation is the simultaneous estimation and thus mutual correction of all effects considered in the model, i.e. in a BLUP estimation procedure the breeding values for all relevant environmental effects are corrected directly in the estimation model, a pre-correction of the performance data is not performed. This feature allows a differentiating estimation, e.g. whether the superiority of an animal results from its genotype or from a location advantage. The recognition and the correct consideration of the level (genetic competition comparison animals) also results from the property of the estimation procedure.
All characteristics are statistically evaluated simultaneously. A multi-trait model links the different traits via the genetic correlations, thus each information contributes at the same time to the estimation of the breeding value of the other characteristics. A multi-trait model has at the same time the traits of an optimal index, i.e. the resulting characteristic breeding values must be summarized only with the economic weights to the index.
The animal model considers all (known) relations and uses thus all available sources of information of the related animals (performances). Due to the animal model and multi-trait approach, breeding values are estimated for each animal in all traits, even if the animal itself does not have a corresponding own performance, but only its relatives. If the parentage of an animal is unknown, i.e. one or both parents are not known, genetic groups of origin are defined instead of the parents, which form the expected value (pedigree - breeding value) for these animals. In order to represent these groups of origin as accurately as possible, genetic groups are defined for breed, sex and years of birth.
Display of results:
The estimated breeding values for the weights are represented by a linear transformation as breeding values for daily increases. In a selection index procedure, the natural breeding values from the two estimates of the field and station results for the characteristics weight at 365-day weighing and assessment of the muscularity score at 365-day weighing are combined into combined breeding values for all animals with performance in both estimation procedures.
Relative breeding value meat (RZF), from the three individual breeding values:
- maternal breeding value (daily increase up to 200 days) (ZWmat)
- breeding value for the daily increase until the 365th day of life (ZW_TZ)
- For the muscling on the 365th day of life (ZW_B) a total breeding value relative breeding value meat (RZF) is formed. The weighting is 40 % ZWmat, 40 % ZW_TZ and 20 % ZW_B
Improved fattening performance leads to higher profits & less environmental impact. The RZF enables an estimation of breeding value by means of weight data already collected in Germany. When performance of the animals increases, less are needed for the same production.
- Socio- economic resilience:
- Animal health and welfare:
- Production efficiency and meat quality: Rising daily gains, fewer animals, shorter fattening period, higher carcass yield
- Environmental sustainability: lower feed consumption, lower CO2 emissions per kg product