Sheath area in Brahman and grade Brahman calves and its association with preweaning growth traits.

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Data from 439 Brahman (B) and grade Brahman (GB; 7/8 Brahman or more) calves born from 1970 through 1975 at the USDA Subtropical Agricultural Research Station were used to estimate least-squares means, heritabilities and genetic correlations for sheath area and preweaning growth traits. Grade Brahman calves weighed more (P less than .01) at birth and gained more (P less than .01) preweaning than B calves, although sheath areas were not different. Males exceeded (P less than .01) heifers in all preweaning growth traits and had larger (P less than .01) sheath areas. Heritabilities were: sheath area, .45 +/- .13; birth weight, .25 +/- .13; average daily gain, .38 +/- .15 and weaning weight, .35 +/- .15. Genetic correlations between sheath area and birth weight, average daily gain and weaning weight were .23 +/- .35, .58 +/- .25 and .52 +/- .27. These results suggest selection could be effective in reducing sheath area in B and B-derivative breeds, but would be antagonistic to preweaning growth traits. Because of relatively low phenotypic correlations between sheath area and preweaning growth rate (.27) and weaning weight (.29), continued emphasis on increasing growth rate or weaning weight could generally be maintained with careful attention to avoiding large sheath areas through independent culling level or index selection procedures.

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Journal of animal science

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