Date of this Version
J. Anim. Sci. 2003. 81:1414–1426
Growth and testicular development between 7 and 15 mo of age were evaluated in bulls produced by mating sires of six breeds (Hereford, Angus, Belgian Blue, Brahman, Boran, and Tuli) to Angus, Hereford, and U.S. Meat Animal Research Center III (four-breed composite) cows. At 12 mo of age, Angus- and Hereford-sired bulls had the heaviest body weight (P < 0.08 to 0.001), whereas Brahman- and Belgian Blue-sired bulls were intermediate, and Boran- and Tuli-sired bulls weighed the least. Bulls sired by European breeds grew more rapidly after weaning (P < 0.01) than did Brahman-, Boran-, and Tuli-sired bulls, and these differences in growth rate were maintained through 15 mo of age, indicating that offspring of heat-adapted sire breeds (Brahman, Boran, and Tuli) have lower postweaning rates of gain, particularly during winter months, than do offspring of nonheat adapted sire breeds. Testis size was smaller initially (P < 0.01) and remained smaller in offspring of heat-adapted sire breeds through yearling age. By 15 mo of age, testis size was largest (P < 0.06 to 0.001) in Angus-sired bulls and had become similar among Hereford-, Brahman-, Boran- and Belgian Blue-sired bulls but remained smaller (P < 0.02 to 0.001) in Tulisired bulls. Thus, offspring of heat-adapted sire breeds had delayed testicular development compared with that of nonheat adapted sire breeds, particularly through yearling age. At puberty, Angus-sired bulls were 23 to 82 d younger (P < 0.05 to 0.001) than all other sire breeds except Hereford, and Brahman-sired bulls were older at puberty (P < 0.05 to 0.001) than were bulls of all other sire breeds except Boran. Testis size at puberty was quite similar among breeds of bulls (scrotal circumference = 27.9 ± 0.1 cm) despite large breed differences in age, body weight, and hip height. Thus, measurement of yearling testis size was a reliable indicator of age at puberty among widely divergent breeds of bulls. In addition, the lower postweaning rates of gain and the smaller and slower testicular development in offspring of heat-adapted sire breeds should be noted by cattle producers considering use of such breeds in crossbreeding and breed improvement programs.