Principal components and factor analytic models for birth to mature weights in Nellore cattle
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A total of 61,528 weight records from 22,246 Nellore animals born between 1984 and 2002 were used to compare different multiple-trait analysis methods for birth to mature weights. The following models were used: standard multivarite model (MV), five reduced-rank models fitting the first 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 genetic principal components, and five models using factor analysis with 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 factors. Direct additive genetic random effects and residual effects were included in all models. In addition, maternal genetic and maternal permanent environmental effects were included as random effects for birth and weaning weight. The models included contemporary group as fixed effect and age of animal at recording (except for birth weight) and age of dam at calving as linear and quadratic effects (for birth weight and weaning weight). The maternal genetic, maternal permanent environmental and residual (co)variance matrices were assumed to be full rank. According to model selection criteria, the model fitting the three first principal components (PC3) provided the best fit, without the need for factor analysis models. Similar estimates of phenotypic, direct additive and maternal genetic, maternal permanent environmental and residual (co)variances were obtained with models MV and PC3. Direct heritability ranged from 0.21 (birth weight) to 0.45 (weight at 6 years of age). The genetic and phenotypic correlations obtained with model PC3 were slightly higher than those estimated with model MV. In general, the reduced-rank model substantially decreased the number of parameters in the analyses without reducing the goodness-of-fit. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.