Reproductive rates, birth weight, calving ease and 24-h calf survival in a four-breed diallel among Simmental, Limousin, Polled Hereford and Brahman beef cattle

J W Comerford, J K Bertrand, L L Benyshek, M H Johnson
Journal of Animal Science 1987, 64 (1): 65-76
Calving and weaning rates, birth weight, calving ease, and 24-h calf survival were evaluated in a four-breed diallel of Simmental (S), Limousin (L), Polled Hereford (H) and Brahman (B) beef cattle in five calf crops. Limousin dams tended to have the highest calving and weaning rates because they were able to have heavier calves with less calving difficulty and higher survival rates. Brahman-sired calves were the heaviest at birth (P less than .05) and B dams produced the lightest calves (P less than .001). Lower birth weights tended to be the limiting factor on survival of these calves. A linear comparison among means to evaluate purebred, additive, maternal and specific combining ability effects showed most of the reduction in birth weight from B dams was due to maternal effects. Breed of dam accounted for a higher proportion of variation in calving ease than did sire breed. Simmental sires had significantly heavier calves at birth and S and H dams tended to have more calving difficulty and lower survival rates. Heterosis for these traits was generally not significant. Correlations were generally positive and significant for birth weight and calving ease, but were more variable for birth weight and survival. Linear regressions of calving ease on birth weight both within years and within dam-breed-year subclasses were very similar in that the association of these two traits was reduced as dam age increased.

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