Evaluating maternal traits in the Austrian Murboden cattle: Genetic parameters and inbreeding depression
Keywords:endangered cattle breed, calving ease, weight, inbreeding depression, genetic parameters
The endangered Murboden cattle breed is local to Styria, a province in Austria. After having successfully followed a compulsory mating advice program, the effective population size of the Murboden has grown to proportions that may allow genetic selection. Murboden farmers are interested in using genetic selection to improve calving performance and relevant weight traits. Calving is a key event on any cattle farm, with both economic and animal welfare consequences when complications arise. Although mostly reported in highly selected breeds, problematic calving performance is also a worry to the unselected dual-purpose Murboden. This study presents genetic parameter estimates for calving ease, birth weight and 200-day weight in Murboden cattle. Furthermore, a potential effect of inbreeding on the breeds’ phenotypic performance is evaluated. Results show a moderate direct and maternal heritability (0.17±0.04; 0.07±0.02) and a significant negative direct-maternal genetic correlation for calving ease (-0.44±0.10). Heritabilities of birth weight and 200-day weight, respectively, are considerable (direct: 0.49±0.05; 0.31±0.03, maternal: 0.11±0.03; 0.17±0.02) with negative direct-maternal genetic correlations (-0.57±0.05; -0.37±0.13). A significant effect of dam inbreeding was detected on calving ease whereas animal inbreeding significantly affects birth weight and 200-day weight. By categorizing the inbreeding coefficients of the calf and dam in six ascending classes it was shown that performance worsens as inbreeding coefficients become larger. Results of this study reveal significant genetic variation in calving performance and weight traits of the Murboden breed which allows for genetic selection. The detected inbreeding depression on all traits suggests a double advantage of a future extension to the mating advice program which combines restriction of inbreeding with selection on estimated breeding values.
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