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Title: Genetic and phenotypic variance and covariance components for methane emission and postweaning traits in Angus cattle
Contributor(s): Donoghue, K A (author); Bird-Gardiner, T L  (author); Arthur, P F (author); Herd, Robert M  (author)orcid ; Hegarty, Roger  (author)
Publication Date: 2016
DOI: 10.2527/jas.2015-0065
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Abstract: Ruminants contribute 80% of the global livestock greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mainly through the production of methane, a byproduct of enteric microbial fermentation primarily in the rumen. Hence, reducing enteric methane production is essential in any GHG emissions reduction strategy in livestock. Data on 1,046 young bulls and heifers from 2 performance-recording research herds of Angus cattle were analyzed to provide genetic and phenotypic variance and covariance estimates for methane emissions and production traits and to examine the interrelationships among these traits. The cattle were fed a roughage diet at 1.2 times their estimated maintenance energy requirements and measured for methane production rate (MPR) in open circuit respiration chambers for 48 h. Traits studied included DMI during the methane measurement period, MPR, and methane yield (MY; MPR/ DMI), with means of 6.1 kg/d (SD 1.3), 132 g/d (SD 25), and 22.0 g/kg (SD 2.3) DMI, respectively. Four forms of residual methane production (RMP), which is a measure of actual minus predicted MPR, were evaluated. For the first 3 forms, predicted MPR was calculated using published equations. For the fourth (RMPR), predicted MPR was obtained by regression of MPR on DMI. Growth and body composition traits evaluated were birth weight (BWT), weaning weight (WWT), yearling weight (YWT), final weight (FWT), and ultrasound measures of eye muscle area, rump fat depth, rib fat depth, and intramuscular fat. Heritability estimates were moderate for MPR (0.27 [SE 0.07]), MY (0.22 [SE 0.06]), and the RMP traits (0.19 [SE 0.06] for each), indicating that genetic improvement to reduce methane emissions is possible. The RMP traits and MY were strongly genetically correlated with each other (0.99 ± 0.01). The genetic correlation of MPR with MY as well as with the RMP traits was moderate (0.32 to 0.63). The genetic correlation between MPR and the growth traits (except BWT) was strong (0.79 to 0.86). These results indicate that selection for lower MPR may have undesired effect on animal productivity. On the other hand, MY and the RMPR were either not genetically correlated or weakly correlated with BWT, YWT, and FWT (-0.06 to 0.23) and body composition traits (-0.18 to 0.18). Therefore, selection for lower MY or RMPR would lead to lower MPR without impacting animal productivity. Where the use of a ratio trait (e.g., MY) is not desirable, selection on any of the forms of RMP would be an alternative.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Animal Science, 94(4), p. 1438-1445
Publisher: American Society of Animal Science
Place of Publication: United States of America
ISSN: 0021-8812
Field of Research (FOR): 070201 Animal Breeding
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 830301 Beef Cattle
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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