Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version



Transl. Anim. Sci. 2021.5:1-6




The commercial beef cattle industry relies heavily on the use of natural service sires. When artificial insemination is deemed difficult to implement, multisire breeding pastures are used to increase reproductive rates in large breeding herds or to safe-guard against bull injury during the breeding season. Although each bull might be given an equal opportunity to produce offspring, evidence suggest that there is substantial variation in the number of calves sired by each bull in a breeding pasture. With the use of DNA-based paternity testing, correctly assigning calves to their respective sires in multisire pastures is possible and presents an opportunity to investigate the degree to which this trait complex is under genetic control. Field data from a large commercial ranch was used to estimate genetic parameters for calf count (CC; 574 records from 443 sires) and yearling scrotal circumference (SC; n = 1961) using univariate and bivariate animal models. Calf counts averaged 12.2 ± 10.7 and SC averaged 35.4 ± 2.30 cm. Bulls had an average of 1.30 records and there were 23.9 ± 11.1 bulls per contemporary group. The model for CC included fixed effects of age during the breeding season (in years) and contemporary group (concatenation of breeding pasture and year). Random effects included additive genetic and permanent environmental effects, and a residual. The model for SC included fixed effects of age (in days) and contemporary group (concatenation of month and year of measurement). Random effects included an additive genetic effect and a residual. Univariate model heritability estimates for CC and SC were 0.178 ± 0.142 and 0.455 ± 0.072, respectively. Similarly, the bivariate model resulted in heritability estimates for CC and SC of 0.184 ± 0.142 and 0.457 ± 0.072, respectively. Repeatability estimates for CC from univariate and bivariate models were 0.315 ± 0.080 and 0.317 ± 0.080, respectively. The estimate of genetic correlation between CC and SC was 0.268 ± 0.274. Heritability estimates suggest that both CC and SC would respond favorably to selection. Moreover, CC is lowly repeatable and although favorably correlated, SC appears to be weakly associated with CC.