Department of Animal Science



Stephen D. Kachman

Date of this Version



Journal of Animal Science 93 (2015), pp. 46–52; doi: 10.2527/jas2014-8493


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Heterosis, assumed proportional to expected breed heterozygosity, was calculated for 6834 individuals with birth, weaning and yearling weight records from Cycle VII and advanced generations of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) Germplasm Evaluation (GPE) project. Breeds represented in these data included: Angus, Hereford, Red Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Simmental, Limousin and Composite MARC III. Heterosis was further estimated by proportions of British × British (B × B), British × Continental (B × C) and Continental × Continental (C × C) crosses and by breed-specific combinations. Model 1 fitted fixed covariates for heterosis within biological types while Model 2 fitted random breed-specific combinations nested within the fixed biological type covariates. Direct heritability estimates (SE) for birth, weaning ,and yearling weight for Model 1 were 0.42 (0.04), 0.22 (0.03), and 0.39 (0.05), respectively. The direct heritability estimates (SE) of birth, weaning, and yearling weight for Model 2 were the same as Model 1, except yearling weight heritability was 0.38 (0.05). The B × B, B × C, and C × C heterosis estimates for birth weight were 0.47 (0.37), 0.75 (0.32), and 0.73 (0.54) kg, respectively. The B × B, B × C, and C × C heterosis estimates for weaning weight were 6.43 (1.80), 8.65 (1.54), and 5.86 (2.57) kg, respectively. Yearling weight estimates for B × B, B × C, and C × C heterosis were 17.59(3.06), 13.88 (2.63), and 9.12 (4.34) kg, respectively. Differences did exist among estimates of breed-specific heterosis for weaning and yearling weight, although the variance component associated with breed-specific heterosis was not significant. These results illustrate that there are differences in breed-specific heterosis and exploiting these differences can lead to varying levels of heterosis among mating plans.