The objective of this study is to estimate variance-covariance components and genetic parameters for growth traits in Tswana cattle. Genetic analyses for average daily gain (ADGs) and growth traits were conducted using 7223 records of animals which were born between 1996 and 2013 from 1662 dams and 188 sires in 54 contemporary groups. Both univariate and bivariate animal models were used. Heritability estimates for growth traits ranged from 0.12±0.03 for BWT to 0.45±0.03 for EWT while those obtained for ADGs were 0.24±0.03 and 0.31±0.04 for ADG1 and ADG2, respectively. Permanent maternal environmental effects were significant for WWT and ADG1. Substantial maternal genetic effects were observed in BWT, WWT and ADG1. Genetic correlations among growth traits and ADGs ranged from 0.19±0.07 between BWT and ADG1 to 0.99±0.02 between WWT and ADG1. Phenotypic correlations among growth traits and ADGs ranged from 0.19±0.01 between BWT and ADG1 to 0.94±0.01 between WWT and ADG1. The two selected lines significantly improved annual genetic gain for all the growth traits and ADG1. Genetic gain for EWT was optimally enhanced in S2 than in S1. The control line exhibited significant annual genetic gain in WWT which was not anticipated and perhaps attributed to asymmetry of selection response. Substantial genetic variations were observed in all growth traits and ADGs suggesting that growth improvement can be attained through selection for growth rate. High genetic correlations between growth traits and ADGs indicated that selection for one of these traits may result in indirect correlated response on the other traits.
Key words: Bivariate analysis, genetic correlations, heritability, indigenous cattle, maternal effects, genetic variation.
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