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


Date of this Version


Document Type



2016 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.


J. Anim. Sci. 2016.94:1857–1864 doi:10.2527/jas2015-0161


Birth weight (BWT) and calving difficulty (CD) were recorded on 4,579 first-parity females from the Germplasm Evaluation Program at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC). Both traits were analyzed using a bivariate animal model with direct and maternal effects. Calving difficulty was transformed from the USMARC scores to corresponding Z-scores from the standard normal distribution based on the incidence rate of the USMARC scores. Breed fraction covariates were included to estimate breed differences. Heritability estimates (SE) for BWT direct, CD direct, BWT maternal, and CD maternal were 0.34 (0.10), 0.29 (0.10), 0.15 (0.08), and 0.13 (0.08), respectively. Calving difficulty direct breed effects deviated from Angus ranged from −0.13 to 0.77 and maternal breed effects deviated from Angus ranged from −0.27 to 0.36. Hereford-, Angus-, Gelbvieh-, and Brangus-sired calves would be the least likely to require assistance at birth, whereas Chiangus-, Charolais-, and Limousinsired calves would be the most likely to require assistance at birth. Maternal breed effects for CD were least for Simmental and Charolais and greatest for Red Angus and Chiangus. Results showed that the diverse biological types of cattle have different effects on both BWT and CD. Furthermore, results provide a mechanism whereby beef cattle producers can compare EBV for CD direct and maternal arising from disjoined and breed-specific genetic evaluations.