Linear type traits describing the skeletal, muscular, and functional characteristics of an animal are routinely scored on live animals in both the dairy and beef cattle industries. Previous studies have demonstrated that genetic parameters for certain performance traits may differ between breeds; no study, however, has attempted to determine if differences exist in genetic parameters of linear type traits among breeds or sexes. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to determine if genetic covariance components for linear type traits differed among five contrasting cattle breeds, and to also investigate if these components differed by sex. A total of 18 linear type traits scored on 3,356 Angus (AA), 31,049 Charolais (CH), 3,004 Hereford (HE), 35,159 Limousin (LM), and 8,632 Simmental (SI) were used in the analysis. Data were analyzed using animal linear mixed models which included the fixed effects of sex of the animal (except in the investigation into the presence of sexual dimorphism), age at scoring, parity of the dam, and contemporary group of herd-date of scoring. Differences (P < 0.05) in heritability estimates, between at least two breeds, existed for 13 out of 18 linear type traits. Differences (P < 0.05) also existed between the pairwise within-breed genetic correlations among the linear type traits. Overall, the linear type traits in the continental breeds (i.e., CH, LM, SI) tended to have similar heritability estimates to each other as well as similar genetic correlations among the same pairwise traits, as did the traits in the British breeds (i.e., AA, HE). The correlation between a linear function of breeding values computed conditional on covariance parameters estimated from the CH breed with a linear function of breeding values computed conditional on covariance parameters estimated from the other breeds was estimated. Replacing the genetic covariance components estimated in the CH breed with those of the LM had least effect but the impact was considerable when the genetic covariance components of the AA were used. Genetic correlations between the same linear type traits in the two sexes were all close to unity (≥0.90) suggesting little advantage in considering these as separate traits for males and females. Results for the present study indicate the potential increase in accuracy of estimated breeding value prediction from considering, at least, the British breed traits separate to continental breed traits.
- Type traits