Analysis of stayability in South African Angus cattle using a threshold model
The objectives of the study were to estimate genetic parameters for stayability in the South African Angus cattle and to compare the sire and animal threshold models. Data and pedigree information were obtained from the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System of South Africa. Stayability was defined as a probability that a cow remained in the herd until four (STAY4), five (STAY5), six (STAY6), seven (STAY7) and eight years of age (STAY8), given that she was a dam. Cows that were in the herd by a specific age were assigned a “1” or a “0”, otherwise. The proportions of successful stayability were 0.63, 0.57, 0.49, 0.42, and 0.37 for STAY4, STAY5, STAY6, STAY7 and STAY8, respectively. Estimates of genetic parameters were obtained from sire and animal threshold models using AIREML algorithm. The model included the fixed effect of contemporary group and random effects of sire or animal genetic effect and the residual. Heritability estimates from the sire model were 0.26 ± 0.08, 0.26 ± 0.09, 0.30 ± 0.09, 0.24 ± 0.10 and 0.27 ± 0.11 for STAY4, STAY5, STAY6, STAY7 and STAY8, respectively. Corresponding estimates from the animal model were 0.20 ± 0.11, 0.20 ± 0.11, 0.20 ± 0.12, 0.18 ± 0.13 and 0.20 ± 0.14. Estimates from the sire and animal models were consistent. Results from the current study indicate that direct selection for stayability could be effective. However, the long generation interval required to obtain accurate estimates of genetic merit may slow genetic progress for stayability at older ages.