Genetic associations between temperament and performance traits in Nellore beef cattle

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The aim of this study was to estimate genetic associations between temperament and performance traits. Temperament was evaluated in yearling male and female Nellore cattle, using four traits: temperament score (TS), for assessing animals' reactions in a corral pen (n = 25 691); movement score (MOV), for animals' movements recorded inside the crush; crush score (CS), for animal's general reactivity inside the crush; and flight speed (FS), for the speed (in m/s) at which the animals exited the crush (n = 11 697, for the last three methods); for all the temperament traits, lower scores indicate animals with calmer temperament. Performance traits were visual scores for conformation (C), finishing precocity (P) and muscling (M) evaluated at yearlings, and average daily gain (ADG) was estimated from weaning to yearling. Bayesian inference using Gibbs sampling was applied to estimate (co)variance components and genetic and phenotypic parameters. Heritability estimates for the temperament traits ranged from 0.07 (CS) to 0.28 (FS). Genetic correlations of the temperament traits with ADG and C, P and M were negative and ranged from −0.02 to −0.31. Phenotypic correlations were negative and consistently lower than the genetic, ranging from −0.08 to −0.02. It was concluded that the temperament traits assessed had favourable genetic correlation estimates with the performance traits studied. However, indirect responses in temperament when selecting for higher ADG and visual scoring system of C, P and M, will be low.

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