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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Animal Sciences | Beef Science | Biology | Life Sciences

Publication Details

Journal of Animal Science, vol. 102. © The Author(s) 2024.


Genetic selection has been identified as a promising approach for reducing enteric methane (CH4) emissions; a prerequisite for genetic evaluations; however, these are estimates of the necessary genetic parameters based on a population representative of where the genetic evaluations will be used. The objective of this study was, therefore, to derive genetic parameters for a series of definitions of CH4, carbon dioxide (CO2), and dry matter intake (DMI) as well as genetic correlations between CH4, CO2, and DMI in a bid to address the paucity of studies involving methane emissions measured in beef cattle using GreenFeed systems. Lastly, estimated breeding values (EBV) were generated for nine alternative definitions of CH4 using the derived genetic parameters; the EBV were validated against both phenotypic performance (adjusted for non-genetic effects) and the Legarra and Reverter method comparing EBV generated for a subset of the dataset compared to EBV generated from the entire dataset. Individual animal CH4 and CO2 records were available from a population of 1,508 multi-breed growing beef cattle using 10 GreenFeed Emission Monitoring systems. Nine trait definitions for CH4 and CO2 were derived: individual spot measures, the average of all spot measures within a 3-h, 6-h, 12-h, 1-d, 5-d, 10-d, and 15-d period and the average of all spot measures across the full test period (20 to 114 d on test). Heritability estimates from 1,155 animals, for CH4, increased as the length of the averaging period increased and ranged from 0.09 ± 0.03 for the individual spot measures trait to 0.43 ± 0.11 for the full test average trait; a similar trend existed for CO2 with the estimated heritability ranging from 0.17 ± 0.04 to 0.50 ± 0.11. Enteric CH4 was moderately to strongly genetically correlated with DMI with a genetic correlation of 0.72 ± 0.02 between the spot measures of CH4 and a 1-d average DMI. Correlations, adjusted for heritability, between the adjusted phenotype and (parental average) EBV ranged from 0.56 to 1.14 across CH4 definitions and the slope between the adjusted phenotype and EBV ranged from 0.92 to 1.16 (expectation = 1). Validation results from the Legarra and Reverter regression method revealed a level bias of between −0.81 and −0.45, a dispersion bias of between 0.93 and 1.17, and ratio accuracy (ratio of the partial evaluation accuracies on whole evaluation accuracies) from 0.28 to 0.38. While EBV validation results yielded no consensus, CH4 is a moderately heritable trait, and selection for reduced CH4 is achievable.