Marbling traits and herd health

Angus cattlemen work to include both the cow and the carcass in herd goals, and researchers at Iowa State University have the data to prove that is a valid path.

According to the director of Iowa Beef Center, Dan Loy, “There’s a perception out in the industry that there may be some negative relationships there... They found very few relationships between marbling and reproduction. The one thing they did find was a positive relationship between milk production and marbling...You can select for high quality, for marbling, and the traits that consumers want currently and still have a functional, effective cow herd.”

After Iowa State researchers spent two decades on single-trait selection for marbling, they found all other traits maintaining at the Angus breed average. A key interest led to finding a positive link between fertility traits and marbling or intramuscular fat.

“We’re mostly interested in heifer pregnancy and then calving interval, and then also the stayability... of a cow in the heard, and we did find some small correlation, about 0.2, which means that it explains about 4 percent of the variation in the trait between marbling and heifer pregnancy,” Loy said

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