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


Date of this Version


Document Type



J. Anim. Sci. 2011. 89:979–987


U.S. Government Work


The objective of this study was to characterize breeds representing diverse biological types for birth and weaning traits in crossbred cattle. Gestation length, calving difficulty, percentage of unassisted calving, percentage of perinatal survival, percentage of survival from birth to weaning, birth weight, BW at 200 d, and ADG were measured in 2,500 calves born and 2,395 calves weaned. Calves were obtained by mating Hereford, Angus, and U.S. Meat Animal Research Center III (one-fourth Hereford, one-fourth Angus, one-fourth Pinzgauer, and one-fourth Red Poll) mature cows to Hereford or Angus (British breed), Brahman, Tuli, Boran, and Belgian Blue sires. Calves were born during the spring seasons of 1992, 1993, and 1994. Sire breed was significant for all traits (P < 0.002). Offspring from British breeds and the Belgian Blue breed had the shortest gestation length (285 d) when compared with progeny from other sire breeds (average of 291 d). Calving difficulty was greater in offspring from Brahman sires (1.24), whereas the offspring of Tuli sires had the least amount of calving difficulty (1.00). Offspring from all sire breeds had similar perinatal survival and survival from birth to weaning (average of 97.2 and 96.2%, respectively), with the exception of offspring from Brahman sires, which had less (92.8 and 90.4%, respectively). Progeny of Brahman sires were heaviest at birth (45.7 kg), followed by offspring from British breed, Boran, and Belgian Blue sires (average of 42.4 kg). The lightest offspring at birth were from Tuli sires (38.6 kg). Progeny derived from Brahman sires were the heaviest at 200 d (246 kg), and they grew faster (1.00 kg/d) than offspring from any other group. The progeny of British breeds and the Belgian Blue breed had an intermediate BW at 200 d (238 kg) and an intermediate ADG (average of 0.98 kg/d). The progeny of Boran and Tuli sires were the lightest at 200 d (227 kg) and had the least ADG (0.93 kg/d). Male calves had a longer gestation length, had a greater incidence of calving difficulty, had greater mortality to weaning, were heavier, and grew faster than female calves. Sire breed effects can be optimized by selection and use of appropriate crossbreeding systems.