Animal Science, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



J. Anim. Sci. 2017.95:1913–1920



© 2017 American Society of Animal Science.


An economic selection index was developed for Beefmaster cattle in a general-purpose production system in which bulls are mated to a combination of heifers and mature cows, with resulting progeny retained as replacements or sold at weaning. National average prices from 2010 to 2014 were used to establish income and expenses for the system. Genetic parameters were obtained from the literature. Economic values were estimated by simulating 100,000 animals and approximating the partial derivatives of the profit function by perturbing traits 1 at a time, by 1 unit, while holding the other traits constant at their respective means. Relative economic values for the objective traits calving difficultly direct (CDd), calving difficulty maternal (CDm), weaning weight direct (WWd), weaning weight maternal (WWm), mature cow weight (MW), and heifer pregnancy (HP) were −2.11, −1.53, 18.49, 11.28, −33.46, and 1.19, respectively. Consequently, under the scenario assumed herein, the greatest improvements in profitability could be made by decreasing maintenance energy costs associated with MW followed by improvements in weaning weight. The accuracy of the index lies between 0.218 (phenotypic-based index selection) and 0.428 (breeding values known without error). Implementation of this index would facilitate genetic improvement and increase profitability of Beefmaster cattle operations with a general-purpose breeding objective when replacement females are retained and with weaned calves as the sale end point.