Genetic association among feeding behavior, feed efficiency, and growth traits in growing indicine cattle
MetadataShow full item record
This study aimed to estimate genetic parameters, including genomic data, for feeding behavior, feed efficiency, and growth traits in Nellore cattle. The following feeding behavior traits were studied (861 animals with records): time spent at the feed bunk (TF), duration of one feeding event (FD), frequency of visits to the bunk (FF), feeding rate (FR), and dry matter intake (DMI) per visit (DMIv). The feed efficiency traits (1,543 animals with records) included residual feed intake (RFI), residual weight gain (RWG), and feed conversion (FC). The growth traits studied were average daily gain (ADG, n = 1,543 animals) and selection (postweaning) weight (WSel, n = 9,549 animals). The (co)variance components were estimated by the maximum restricted likelihood method, fitting animal models that did (single-step genomic best linear unbiased prediction) or did not include (best linear unbiased prediction) genomic information in two-trait analyses. The direct responses to selection were calculated for the feed efficiency traits, ADG, and WSel, as well as the correlated responses in feed efficiency and growth by direct selection for shorter TF. The estimated heritabilities were 0.51 ± 0.06, 0.35 ± 0.06, 0.27 ± 0.07, 0.34 ± 0.06, and 0.33 ± 0.06 for TF, FD, FF, FR, and DMIv, respectively. In general, TF and FD showed positive genetic correlations with all feed efficiency traits (RFI, RWG, and FC), ADG, DMI, and WSel. Additionally, TF showed high and positive genetic and phenotypic correlations with RFI (0.71 ± 0.10 and 0.46 ± 0.02, respectively) and DMI (0.56 ± 0.09 and 0.48 ± 0.03), and medium to weak genetic correlations with growth (0.32 ± 0.11 with ADG and 0.14 ± 0.09 with WSel). The results suggest that TF is a strong indicator trait of feed efficiency, which exhibits high heritability and a weak positive genetic correlation with growth. In a context of a selection index, the inclusion of TF to select animals for shorter TF may accelerate the genetic gain in feed efficiency by reducing RFI but with zero or slightly negative genetic gain in growth traits.