Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

July 2007


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2007, 85:1885–1892.


Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is the most costly feedlot disease in the United States. Selection for disease resistance is one of several possible interventions to prevent or reduce the economic loss associated with animal disease and to improve animal welfare. Undesirable genetic relationships, however, may exist between production and disease resistance traits. The objectives of this study were to estimate the phenotypic, environmental, and genetic correlations of BRD with growth, carcass, and LM palatability traits. Health records on 18,112 feedlot cattle over a 15-yr period and slaughter data on 1,627 steers over a 4-yr period were analyzed with bivariate animal models. Traits included ADG, adjusted carcass fat thickness at the 12th rib, marbling score, LM area, weight of retail cuts, weight of fat trim, bone weight, Warner-Bratzler shear force, tenderness score, and juiciness score. The estimated heritability of BRD incidence was 0.08 &#;&#;0.01. Phenotypic, environmental, and genetic correlations of the observed traits with BRD ranged from &#;0.35 to 0.40, &#;0.36 to 0.55, and &#;0.42 to 0.20, respectively. Most correlations were low or negligible. The percentage of carcass bone had moderate genetic, phenotypic, and environmental correlations with BRD (&#;0.42, &#;0.35, and &#;0.36, respectively). Hot carcass weight and weight of retail cuts had moderate, undesirable phenotypic correlations with BRD (0.37 and 0.40, respectively). Correlations of BRD with LM palatability and ADG were not detected. Low or near zero estimates of genetic correlations infer that selection to reduce BRD in feedlot cattle would have negligible correlated responses on growth, carcass, and meat palatability traits or that selection for those traits will have little effect on BRD susceptibility or resistance.