Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version

January 1999


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 1999. 77:840–845.


Weaning weights from nine parental breeds and three composites were analyzed to estimate variance due to grandmaternal genetic effects and to compare estimates for variance due to maternal genetic effects from two different models. Number of observations ranged from 794 to 3,465 per population. Number of animals in the pedigree file ranged from 1,244 to 4,326 per population. Two single-trait animal models were used to obtain estimates of covariance components by REML using an average information method. Model 1 included random direct and maternal genetic, permanent maternal environmental, and residual environmental effects as well as fixed sex ´ year and age of dam effects. Model 2 in addition included random grandmaternal genetic and permanent grandmaternal environmental effects to account for maternal effects of a cow on her daughter’s maternal ability. Non-zero estimates of proportion of variance due to grandmaternal effects were obtained for 7 of the 12 populations and ranged from .03 to .06. Direct heritability estimates in these populations were similar with both models. Existence of variance due to grandmaternal effects did not affect the estimates of maternal heritability (m2) or the correlation between direct and maternal genetic effects (ram) for Angus and Gelbvieh. For the other five populations, magnitude of estimates increased for both m2 and ram when estimates of variance due to grandmaternal effects were not zero. Estimates of the correlation between maternal and grandmaternal genetic effects were large and negative. These results suggest that grandmaternal effects exist in some populations, that when such effects are ignored in analyses maternal heritability may be underestimated, and that the correlation between direct and maternal genetic effects may be biased downward if grandmaternal effects are not included in the model for weaning weight of beef cattle.