Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

June 2004


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2004. 82:1903–1911.


Genetic parameters for lifetime production for cows with the opportunity to produce from 2 through 7 yr of age, as measured by the number of calves born (NB2, …, NB7), the number of calves weaned (NW2, …, NW7), and cumulative weaning weight (CW2,…, CW7), were estimated using data from 3,064 Hereford cows from a selection experiment with a control line (CTL) and three lines selected for weaning weight (WWL), yearling weight (YWL), and an index of yearling weight and muscle score (IXL). Weaning weights were adjusted to 200 d of age and for sex and age of dam. Estimates of heritability and genetic and environmental correlations were obtained by restricted maximum likelihood with bivariate animal models, with year of birth of the cow as a fixed effect and direct genetic and residual as random effects. Genetic trends were estimated by regressing means of estimated breeding values by year of birth and line on birth year. Estimates of heritability (SE) for opportunity groups of 2 to 7 yr of age ranged from 0.08 (0.03) to 0.16 (0.05) for NB; from 0.05 (0.02) to 0.16 (0.05) for NW; and from 0.06 (0.02) to 0.16 (0.05) for CW. Estimates of genetic correlations (SE) among NB traits ranged from 0.60 (0.14) to 1.00 (0.00), and estimates of environmental correlations (SE) ranged from 0.67 (0.02) to 0.99 (0.00). For NW, estimates of genetic and environmental correlations ranged from 0.98 (0.11) to 1.00 (0.00) and from 0.65 (0.02) to 0.99 (0.00), respectively. Estimates of genetic correlations (SE) among CW traits ranged from 0.94 (0.08) to 1.00 (0.00). Estimates of environmental correlations (SE) ranged from 0.66 (0.02) to 0.99 (0.00). Estimates of genetic correlations for NB2 with all definitions of NW ranged from 0.47 (0.18) to 0.71 (0.12), and with all definitions of CW ranged from 0.55 (0.16) to 0.80 (0.11). Estimates of genetic correlations between NW2 and all definitions for CW ranged from 0.95 (0.02) to 0.99 (0.06). Estimates of annual genetic (SE) change were negligible for NB2, NB6, NW2, and NW6 for all lines. Estimates of annual genetic (SE) change for CW2 were 0.85 (0.11), 0.79 (0.14), 0.51 (0.10), and 0.52 (0.18) kg/yr, and for CW6 were 5.01 (1.25), 2.64 (1.75), 3.67 (1.16), and 3.33 (2.37) kg/yr for WWL, YWL, IXL, and CTL, respectively. Selection for lifetime production as measured by NB, NW, or CW could be effective but would be relatively slow due to low estimates of heritability and to increased generation intervals.