Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



J. Anim. Sci. 2016.94 doi:10.2527/jas2015-9566


© 2016 American Society of Animal Science


Cattle behavior, including measures of docility, is important to beef cattle producers not only from a human safety perspective but also due to potential correlations to economically relevant traits. Field data from the American Hereford Association was used to estimate genetic parameters for chute score (CS; n = 25,037), weaning weight (WW; n = 24,908), yearling weight (YW; n = 23,978), and intramuscular fat percentage (IMF; n = 12,566). Single-trait and bivariate animal models were used to estimate heritabilities and genetic correlations. All models included fixed effects of sex and contemporary group, defined as herd–year–season, and direct genetic and residual components were included as random effects. For CS and WW, additional random effects of maternal genetic and maternal permanent environment were also fitted. For CS, WW, YW, and IMF, heritability estimates were 0.27 ± 0.02, 0.35 ± 0.03, 0.36 ± 0.02, and 0.27 ± 0.02, respectively. Genetic correlations between CS and WW, CS and YW, CS and IMF, WW and YW, WW and IMF, and YW and IMF were –0.12 ± 0.06, –0.10 ± 0.05, –0.08 ± 0.06, 0.47 ± 0.05, –0.19 ± 0.09, and –0.41 ± 0.05, respectively. Heritability estimates for all traits suggest that they would respond favorably to selection and that selection for increased WW or YW could decrease marbling. Genetic correlations between CS and WW, YW, and IMF were all favorable but weak, suggesting that selection for improved docility will not have negative consequences on growth or carcass quality. Furthermore, maternal additive and maternal permanent environmental variances for CS were near 0, suggesting that their inclusion in National Cattle Evaluations is not warranted.