Variance components due to direct genetic, maternal genetic and permanent environmental effect for growth and feed-efficiency traits in young male Japanese Black cattle
Variance components and genetic parameters were estimated using data recorded on 740 young male Japanese Black cattle during the period from 1971 to 2003. Traits studied were feed intake (FI), feed-conversion ratio (FCR), residual feed intake (RFI), average daily gain (ADG), metabolic body weight (MWT) at the mid-point of the test period and body weight (BWT) at the finish of the test (345 days). Data were analysed using three alternative animal models (direct, direct + maternal environmental, and direct + maternal genetic effects). Comparison of the log likelihood values has shown that the direct genetic effect was significant (p < 0.05) for all traits and that the maternal environmental effects were significant (p < 0.05) for MWT and BWT. The heritability estimates were 0.20 ± 0.12 for FI, 0.14 ± 0.10 for FCR, 0.33 ± 0.14 for RFI, 0.19 ± 0.12 for ADG, 0.30 ± 0.14 for MWT and 0.30 ± 0.13 for BWT. The maternal effects (maternal genetic and maternal environmental) were not important in feed-efficiency traits. The genetic correlation between RFI and ADG was stronger than the corresponding correlation between FCR and ADG. These results provide evidence that RFI should be included for genetic improvement in feed efficiency in Japanese Black breeding programmes.