Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 2002


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2002. 80:3123–3132.


Breed means and differences for weight (CW, n = 19,851), height (CH, n = 14,553), and condition scores (CS, n = 19,536) recorded in four seasons per year were evaluated for 881 cows ranging from 2 to 7 yr of age from Cycle I of the Germplasm Evaluation Program at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center. Cows were straightbred Herefords and Angus and top-crosses from mating of Hereford, Angus, South Devon, Jersey, Simmental, Limousin, and Charolais sires to Hereford and Angus dams. The model included cow age, season of measurement, and their interactions, with year of birth, pregnancy-lactation (PL) code, and breed group as fixed effects for CW and CS. Analyses of weight adjusted for condition score included CS as covariate. Model for CH excluded PL. Random effects were additive genetic and permanent environmental effects. Data were analyzed by REML. Differences due to breeds of sire were significant for all traits. Differences were generally maintained across ages, with few interchanges in ranking through maturity. Rankings were in the following order: Jersey (lightest and shortest), Hereford- Angus (and reciprocal), Limousin, South Devon, Simmental, and Charolais (heaviest and tallest). The only exception was that Limousin-sired cows were heavier than South Devon-sired cows after 5 yr of age. Cows sired by breeds of British origin tended to be lighter than breeds of continental European origin. Adjustment for condition score changed estimates of breed differences. Rankings of breed groups, however, were generally the same for actual weight and weight adjusted for condition score. Results indicated that the part of the differences in weight due to differences in condition were of small magnitude. Differences tended to increase when adjusted for condition score, especially in contrasts of continental vs British breeds. Differences among breed groups for height followed differences for weight closely.