Canalization analysis of birth weight in Bruna dels Pirineus beef cattle

M. Fina, N. Ibáñez-Escriche, J. Piedrafita, J. Casellas

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Although heteroskedasticity has been a main topic of interest in beef cattle during recent decades, the current availability of canalization models provided new insights for animal breeding programs. Within this context, birth BW (BWT) was analyzed in the Bruna dels Pirineus beef cattle breed by implementing canalization models that accounted for heterogeneous residual variances due to systematic, permanent environmental effects and additive genetic effects. Analyses were performed on BWT data from 8,130 calves born in 12 commercial breeding herds contributing to the yield recording scheme of the Bruna dels Pirineus breed. Analytical models accounted for direct additive genetic, permanent environmental, and 4 systematic effects (i.e., age of the dam, sex of the calf, birth type, and herd-year-season), and the same effects were evaluated as potential sources of variation in the residual term. Their relevance was checked by the deviance information criterion (DIC), and only residual additive genetic, permanent environmental, birth type, and herd-year-season remained in the operational model, all of them originating relevant reductions in the DIC parameter. Bruna dels Pirineus calves showed a moderate heritability of 0.30 (95% high posterior density, 0.19 to 0.40) for BWT; additional additive genetic variability was revealed in the residual term, this being positively correlated with the direct additive genetic component (0.44; 95% high posterior density, 0.37 to 0.54). Genetic trends were evaluated on both sources of additive genetic variance, and relevant patterns were identified in several herds. Although this breed did not evidence a homogeneous genetic trend for the whole population, herd-specific positive and negative trends were revealed, suggesting the plausibility of genetic selection for canalization on BWT in beef cattle breeds. These results must be viewed as a contribution to the canalization research field, providing relevant information for the breeding scheme of the Bruna dels Pirineus breed, as well as important insights about the genetic background of BWT for the beef industry worldwide. © 2013 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3070-3078
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013


  • Bayesian analysis
  • Birth weight
  • Bruna dels Pirineus
  • Canalization
  • Heterogeneous variance


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