Abstract

Predicted economic and greenhouse gas benefits from using improved maternal genetics in UK beef cattle A gene flow model was used to predict the economic and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) effects of using improved maternal trait genetics in a UK beef herd expressed over 20 years. Maternal traits in a dual-purpose index were partitioned out into a Maternal sub-index (M) containing mature weight, calving interval, age at first calving, longevity, gestation length and calving ease. Economic and GHG effects of changes in each trait in response to change in M were calculated. The expressions of these traits in calves, heifers and cows over 20 years were modelled for the current M sub-index genetic trend, and for scenarios that modelled selecting high maternal value sires to breed herd replacements over short (5 years) and long (20 years) terms. Selecting high maternal value sires was predicted to reverse current trends of declining overall maternal economic value and rising GHG emissions, mainly through improvements in mature weight and calving interval. For example, long-term selection of AI proven sires with M genetic value £30 above sire mean was predicted generate cumulative economic increase of £47/cow calving with GHG reduction of 95 kgCO2e/cow after 5 years, and increase of £344 /cow calving with reduction of 2009 kgCO2e/cow calving after 20 years. These results indicate that genetic improvement of beef maternal traits through selection of high maternal-value sires can have substantial economic benefits while reducing GHG emissions. Keywords: beef, cattle, selection, economic index, greenhouse gas, environment

Cheryl Quinton, Peter R Amer, Tom Kirk, Eileen Wall

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Challenges - Environmental, , 364, 2018
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