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



Warren M. Snelling https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6282-9728

Date of this Version


Document Type



Agriculture 2021, 11, 603.



This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license


Phenotypes are necessary for genomic evaluations and management. Sometimes genomics can be used to measure phenotypes when other methods are difficult or expensive. Prolificacy of bulls used in multiple-bull pastures for commercial beef production is an example. A retrospective study of 79 bulls aged 2 and older used 141 times in 4–5 pastures across 4 years was used to estimate repeatability from variance components. Traits available before each season’s use were tested for predictive ability. Sires were matched to calves using individual genotypes and evaluating exclusions. A lower-cost method of measuring prolificacy was simulated for five pastures using the bulls’ genotypes and pooled genotypes to estimate average allele frequencies of calves and of cows. Repeatability of prolificacy was 0.62 ± 0.09. A combination of age-class and scrotal circumference accounted for less than 5% of variation. Simulated estimation of prolificacy by pooling DNA of calves was accurate. Adding pooling of cow DNA or actual genotypes both increased accuracy about the same. Knowing a bull’s prior prolificacy would help predict future prolificacy for management purposes and could be used in genomic evaluations and research with coordination of breeders and commercial beef producers.