U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Beef Research Program Progress Report, No. 4, Part 2 (May 1993)


Recent attempts to increase weight of product marketed for a cow herd have emphasized increasing the weights of progeny that are to be sold. Previous investigations have identified sufficient variation between and within breeds of cattle to enable the producer to set the desired level of genetic potential for size in the cow herd and rate of growth in the progeny. The assumption has been that a positive relationship exists between mature size and productivity. Researchers are beginning to question if this assumption is correct. It has been reported that mature size is negatively related to productivity. However, higher productivity has been related to faster maturing rate (the rate at which an animal attains its mature body mass). Breeds of cattle would be expected to vary with regard to the combination of maturing rate or mature weight that would be most beneficial for production. With the diversity in genetic potential for weights available, today's producers should be able to set the optimum mature weights and maturing rates for their production goals within a defined production environment. Exploitation of genetic differences among the breeds for these traits has been suggested as a way that beef production efficiency could be improved. Exploitation of these differences requires characterization of measures of growth through maturity for a large number of breeds or other uniquely defined populations of cattle. Estimates of growth parameters from birth through 15-18 months are readily obtainable. Estimates of mature weights and rates of maturing for diverse populations are limited. The objective of the present investigation was to estimate means for breeds for several measures of growth through maturity, thus providing an information base characterizing diverse breeds of cattle with regard to mature weights, rates of maturing, and heights.