Testicular traits as selection criteria for young Nellore bulls
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The objective of this study was to evaluate the possible use of biometric testicular traits as selection criteria for young Nellore bulls using Bayesian inference to estimate heritability coefficients and genetic correlations. Multitrait analysis was performed including 17,211 records of scrotal circumference obtained during andrological assessment (SCAND) and 15,313 records of testicular volume and shape. In addition, 50,809 records of scrotal circumference at 18 mo (SC18), used as an anchor trait, were analyzed. The (co) variance components and breeding values were estimated by Gibbs sampling using the Gibbs2F90 program under an animal model that included contemporary groups as fixed effects, age of the animal as a linear covariate, and direct additive genetic effects as random effects. Heritabilities of 0.42, 0.43, 0.31, 0.20, 0.04, 0.16, 0.15, and 0.10 were obtained for SC18, SCAND, testicular volume, testicular shape, minor defects, major defects, total defects, and satisfactory andrological evaluation, respectively. The genetic correlations between SC18 and the other traits were 0.84 (SCAND), 0.75 (testicular shape), 0.44 (testicular volume), -0.23 (minor defects), -0.16 (major defects), -0.24 (total defects), and 0.56 (satisfactory andrological evaluation). Genetic correlations of 0.94 and 0.52 were obtained between SCAND and testicular volume and shape, respectively, and of 0.52 between testicular volume and testicular shape. In addition to favorable genetic parameter estimates, SC18 was found to be the most advantageous testicular trait due to its easy measurement before andrological assessment of the animals, even though the utilization of biometric testicular traits as selection criteria was also found to be possible. In conclusion, SC18 and biometric testicular traits can be adopted as a selection criterion to improve the fertility of young Nellore bulls.