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Estimates of heritabilities and correlations for visual scores, weight and height at 550 days of age in Nelore cattle herds

The objectives of this study were to evaluate the associations between visual scores of body structure, precocity and muscling at 550 days of age and growing traits, and verify the possibilities of applying these traits as selection criteria. (Co)variance components were estimated by restricted maximum likelihood, employing an animal model with fixed effects of contemporary group and age as a covariate (linear and quadratic effects). Contemporary groups were defined by variables: sex; year, season and herd of birth; herd and management group at 120, 210, 365 and 550 days of age. Scores from 1,367 animals for body structure, precocity and muscling were evaluated. Heritability estimates for the visual scores were 0.24 ± 0.09 for body structure, 0.63 ± 0.12 for precocity and 0.48 ± 0.11 for muscling. Genetic correlations estimates among the scores were 0.49 for body structure and precocity, 0.63 between body structure and muscling, 0.90 between precocity and muscling. The genetic correlation estimates among the scores of body structure, precocity and muscling and weight at 550 days were all positive (0.83, 0.42 and 0.50, respectively), while the genetic correlation estimates between hip height and body structure, precocity and muscling were 0,57, -0,29 and -0,33, respectively. Scores for body structure, precocity and muscling at 550 days of age presented moderate-to-large additive genetic variability. The genetic correlation estimates between visual scores and hip height indicated that the selection of taller animals, even though indirectly, can increase the body structure of animals and decrease precocity and muscling at 550 days. Selection for visual scores, especially body structure, should increase animal weight at 550 days.

beef cattle; body structure; genetic parameters; muscling; precocity

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