Categorical Visual Score Traits of a Nellore Beef Cattle Population

  •  Jairo Azevedo Junior    
  •  Juliana Petrini    
  •  Gerson Mourão    
  •  José Bento Ferraz    


Variance components and genetic parameters of economically relevant traits in livestock, whether continuous or categorical, can be estimated by methods computationally available providing support for the selection and mating of animals in breeding programs. The objectives of this paper were to obtain and compare the variance components estimates for visual traits under continuous or categorical distribution in single-trait analysis and their correlations with continuous productive traits in two-trait analysis. Data of conformation (CONF), precocity of fat deposition (PREC) and muscling (MUSC) visual scores evaluated at 18 months of age as well as the weight at 18 months of age (YW) were collected from animals born from 2000 to 2012, in Nellore cattle herds raised in Southeastern and Central Western tropical regions of Brazil. Methods III of Henderson, Restricted Maximum Likelihood (REML), Bayesian Inference and generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) were tested. Variance components obtained from single-trait analysis were similar to those obtained from two-trait analysis. The estimates of heritability (h2) for the visual scores ranged from 0.1081 to 0.2190. Heritability estimates for traits evaluated by visual scores have moderate to high magnitude justifying the inclusion of visual scores as selection criteria in animal breeding and the selection of animals with higher scores for mating. High genetic correlations between yearling weight and morphological traits were verified. For visual scores of conformation, precocity and muscling, the most suitable model based on one-trait or two-trait analyses considered an animal model, a linear distribution of the data and the estimation method of the components of (co)variance based on Bayesian methodology.

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