Bulletin 838 (technical)
Maternal Effects on Reproduction and
Production Traits of Reciprocal F, Dams of
Angus, Brahman, and Charolais Breeds
F.M. Peacock and M. Koger
Agricultural Experiment Stations
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida, Gainesville
F.A. Wood, Dean for Research
Interest in increasing beef production from crossbreeding has focused
attention on the F1 female because of the high productivity associated
with maternal heterosis. Comparisons among F1 reciprocal crossbred
cows are desirable in order to determine if differences in their producing
ability can be attributed to the breed of their dam. The purpose of this
paper is to compare the performance of reciprocal F, crossbred females
as to dam breed for both reproduction and production traits. The
Fr females represented all combinations of the Angus, Brahman, and
Charolais breeds. These breeds represent three divergent breed types
with respect to size and adaptation to the Florida environment (Peacock
et al., 6).
METHODS AND PROCEDURES
The data reported here were obtained at the ARC, Ona, over a 7-year
period from a project in which Angus (A), Brahman (B), and Charolais
(C) bulls were each bred to F, (AB, BA*), F1 (AC, CA*), and F, (BC,
CB*) cows of Angus, Brahman, and Charolais breeds. Bulls were put out
March 1 and removed from the herd June 1 each year. The nutritional
plane of herds varied among years, but the average could be considered
fair to good. Herds were grazed on bahiagrass and Pangola digitgrass
year-round, with molasses supplement or a cottonseed meal-citrus pulp
mixture (1:4 ratio) at 5 pounds per head daily for approximately 90 days
during late winter and early spring. Weaning data on calves and data on
pregnancy status of cows were collected the latter part of August each
year. A total of 21 sires were used (7 of each breed) during the 7-year
period. Heifers were first exposed to bulls at 2 years of age.
The data analyzed, utilizing least-squares procedures as outlined by
Harvey (1), were the individual records for pregnancy, calf survival, calf
age at weaning, weaning weight, estimated 205-day weight, and cow
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The variance analyses for traits measured are presented in Table 1.
Effects such as year, sex, dam age, and in this particular study, sire
breeds, were included in the analysis to adjust for F, dams effects.
*Sire breed is written first in F, combinations.
Table 1. Variance analyses for reproduction and production traits.
Source of weaning weaning 205-day
Variance d.f. Pregnancy Survival age weight weight
Years 6 0.442** 0.016 2856** 3032** 3389**
Sex 1' 1352 15661** 17908**
Dam age 2 0.446* 0.173* 3036* 960 824*
Sire breed 2 0.302* 0.164 3392* 9212** 5868**
F, dam breed ++ 2 0.476** 0.048 656 1495* 2358**
R-AB dams* 1 0.000 0.041 1433 226 54
R-AC dams 1 0.015 0.024 456 130 482
R-BC dams 1 0.112 0.038 2194 392 50
Remainder 571" 0.098 0.056 833 493 249
td.f. only for production traits.
tF, dam reciprocals combination.
*Reciprocal F, dams.
"Remainder d.f. for survival is 500 and for calf data 468.
*P < 0.05.
**P < 0.01.
Least-squares means and standard error for traits measured are pre-
sented in Table 2.
There were highly significant differences for the F1 dam breeds (recip-
rocals combined) for pregnancy, with no differences observed for sur-
vival rate of calves. Pregnancy rates were 91.2% for AB + BA, 81.2%
for AC + CA, and 89.4% for BC + CB Fi dam breeds. Pregnancy rates
for the Brahman cross dams were similar, and higher than those of the
No significant differences in pregnancy or calf survival were observed
among the reciprocals (Table 1). The only reciprocals showing any de-
gree of possible maternal superiority in the performance of their Fi
female progeny were the Charolais x Brahman (CB) at 92.0% over the
Brahman x Charolais (BC) at 86.9% (Table 2). The reciprocals,
whether CB (Charolais bull x Brahman cow) or BC (Brahman bull x
Charolais cow), should be the same genetically. The possibility exists that
differences could be due to the maternal environment provided by the
Brahman to their F, female progeny in utero or during the period from
birth to weaning.
There were no differences observed for weaning age of calves among
the Fi dams reciprocalss combined). This indicates that all F1 dams that
conceived did so during the same time period (Table 1). There were also
no significant differences among the F, reciprocals for weaning age of
Weaning weights and 205-day weights of calves from the three Fi
crossbred combinations reciprocalss combined) were significantly differ-
ent (Table 1). The weights for calves from Fi AB + BA and F1 BC+ CB
cows were similar and were higher (P 0.01) than calves produced by Fi
AC +CA cows (Table 2).
Even though variations were real between breed combinations, there
were no observed differences between F1 breed reciprocals (Table 2).
There was, however, a tendency for F1 dams produced from Brahman
dams to wean heavier calves, but when adjusted for calf age, these small
variations were minimized. Turner et al. (8) reported no differences in
the weaning weight of calves between F, Angus x Brahman vs Brahman
x Angus reciprocal dams in Louisiana, but they did suggest a tendency
for F, dams from Brahman cows to be superior. Results from the Char-
olais-Angus combinations (Table 2) showed that F, cows from Charolais
Table 2. Reproduction and production traits of reciprocal F, dams of the Angus (A), Brahman (B), and Charolais (C) breeds.
Number Number Calf Number
of Preg- of sur- of Calf Weaning 205-day
Breed obser- nancy obser- vival obser- age weight weight
Group vations (%) vations (%) nations (days) (Ib)' (lb)1
AB, BA 218 91.22.7 202 95.62.1 193 224.32.7 503.36.4 467.54.6
AC, CA 185 81.22.5 149 91.92.1 138 228.42.7 484.06.4 443.64.6
BC, CB 184 89.42.5 165 92.9-2.0 154 224.7-2.5 501.76.0 466.34.3
Reciprocal F, Dams
AB 171 91.4+2.6 159 93.82.1 151 227.6-2.6 507.56.2 465.54.4
BA 47 91.14.6 43 97.33.7 42 220.9+4.5 499.111.0 469.67.8
AC 113 82.13.0 92 93.22.5 86 226.53.2 487.17.8 449.85.5
CA 72 80.23.8 57 90.53.2 52 230.3-5.1 480.810.0 437.57.1
BC 78 86.93.7 67 94.53.0 64 220.8+3.7 496.49.0 468.16.4
CB 106 92.0-3.2 98 91.32.5 90 228.64.0 506.97.7 464.45.4
'kg = lb x 0.454.
ttLast letter of pair is dam breed, AB = Angus sire x Brahman dam. BA = Brahman sire x Angus dam.
dams (AC) appeared to have a slight advantage for 205-day calf weight
(450 vs 438 lb [204 vs 199 kg]). These variations suggest the possibility
that reciprocal differences are related to dam size, as the Charolais cows
weighed 1076 lb (488 kg) vs 855 lb (388 kg) for the Angus (Table 4).
Montana research (Pahnish et al., 4) on the same breed combination did
not find differences in 205-day weight of calves from F, reciprocal Char-
olais-Angus crossbred dams, even though the Charolais were 10
heavier than Angus dams.
Research on maternal effects for weaning weight of reciprocal F, calves
was conducted in Florida by Peacock et al. (6). With the Angus-Brahman
combinations, Fi calves produced by Brahman dams were 5.8% heavier
(P < 0.05) at weaning than those from Angus dams, but when adjusted
for age, the difference (3.5%) was not significant (Table 3). The variation
(P < 0.10) in weight of these reciprocals existed at 2 years of age (Peacock
and Koger, 5), and also at maturity (Table 4). The positive effect of the
Brahman dam on preweaning response of calves was greater in the
Charolais-Brahman crosses. Calves from Brahman dams weighed 8.5%
more (P < 0.01) at weaning, and 4.4% more (P < 0.05) when calf weights
were adjusted for age, than the reciprocals from Charolais dams. How-
ever, this advantage diminished to 3.5% (non-significant) at 2 years of
age and was completely gone at maturity. These results do not support
the theory that maternal effect is caused by difference in dam breed size,
since Charolais dams weighed 13.7% more than Brahman dams (Table
4). However, heterosis for growth of offspring was obtained when the
Brahman and European cattle were crossed, and the hybrid vigor effects
masked the maternal effects for growth.
Research has shown no heterosis for calf weaning weight in combined
F1 reciprocals from crossing the Charolais and Angus breeds (Peacock
et al., 6). The Charolais and Angus are both European breeds, even
though large differences existed in mature size. The Charolais cow was
25.8% heavier than the Angus 1076 vs 855 lb (488 vs 388 kg). Reciprocal
crossing resulted in Charolais cows producing 13% more calf than the
Angus cow, 6.2% more when the calves reached 2 years of age. At
maturity this F, Angus x Charolais cow weighed 5.0% more (P < 0.01)
than its reciprocal from Angus cows. Even though real differences did not
occur among offspring of these reciprocal Charolais-Angus cows, addi-
tivity for dam breed size was present in F1 cows, diminishing in the
succeeding generation until equilibrium was reached.
Weights of reciprocal F, females out of Brahman cows at 2 years of age
slightly favored the Brahman dam over Angus and Charolais dams (non-
significant), with the influence of the Charolais dam over the Angus
diminished in the F, but still at a 6.1% advantage (P < 0.05) over the
Angus (Peacock and Koger, 5).
Table 3. Mean differences and standard errors of mean differences for calf weights between purebred, between reciprocal Fi calves, and
between calves of reciprocal F, cows.
Calf weaning weight Calf 205-day weight
Breed groups lb* Mean difference % lb' difference %
Brahman (B) -Angus (A) (398.5-403.8) 5.312.3 1.3 (384.7-366.6) 18.1 8.9* 4.9
Charolais (C) -Angus (491.7-403.8) 87.912.1* 21.8 (465.5-366.6) 98.98.8** 27.0
Charolais Brahman (491.7-398.5) 93.211.5** 23.4 (465.5-384.7) 80.88.3** 21.0
Reciprocal Fi calvest
AB-BA (452.9-428.0) 24.9 12.8 5.8 (427.5-412.9) 14.69.3 3.5
AC-CA (477.6-449.5) 28.1-13.0* 6.2 (457.1-406.3) 50.89.4** 12.7
CB-BC (503.4-464.0) 39.412.0** 8.5 (474.8-454.7) 20.1-8.8* 4.4
Reciprocal Fi cows*
AB-BA (507.5-499.1) 8.412.6 1.7 (465.5-469.6) -4.19.0 0.8
AC-CA (487.1-480.8) 6.3+12.7 1.3 (449.8-437.5) 12.39.0 2.8
CB-BC (506.9-496.4) 10.511.8 2.1 (464.4-468.1) -3.7+8.4 0.8
'kg = lb x 0.454.
"Last letter of pair is dam breed: AB
Brahman sire x Brahman dam.
*Calves of reciprocal F, cows.
*P < 0.05.
**P < 0.01.
Angus sire x Brahman dam, BA = Brahman sire x Angus dam; AB-BA = Angus sire x Brahman dam minus
Table 4. Mean differences, standard error of differences, and percentage differences for weights between purebreds and between
reciprocal Fi cows at mature weight.
Purebred cow Reciprocal F, cowt
Breeds Ibti differences % Breeds lb* differences %
Brahman (B) Angus (A) (947-855) 9211.5** 10.8 AB-BA (987-954) 3318.6 3.5
Charolais (C) Angus (1076-855) 22112.1"* 25.8 AC-CA (1006-958) 4817.6** 5.0
Charolais-Brahman (1076-947) 12912.2** 13.6 BC-CB (1057-1048) 915.3 .9
tAB-BA Mature progeny of A x B vs. B x A.
"kg = lb x 0.454.
**P < 0.01.
The concept of maternal effects on size and growth of beef cattle
offspring was probably based on studies of growth behavior in the horse.
Research in the United Kingdom (Walton and Hammond, 9) showed that
crossbred foals from Shetland mares were smaller at birth and remained
smaller at all subsequent stages of development than their reciprocal
crosses from Shire mares. This was attributed to the fact that leg length
from the knee and hock downwards increased very little after birth, and
the size to which the reciprocal crosses grew was affected accordingly.
However, beef cattle research (Joubert, 2) showed that the knee and
hock heights increased by 55.9% and 56.0% respectively from birth to
maturity, which indicates that differences in size at birth may not remain
permanent but might be altered by compensatory growth.
Further research on maternal influence by Joubert and Hammond (3)
utilized two breeds of beef cattle of an extreme size difference, the South
Devon and Dexter. The average adult South Devon female weighed 1568
lb (712 kg) and the Dexter 650 lb (295 kg), a difference of 241%. Birth
weight of Dexter calves was 51.8 lb (23.5 kg), whereas for South Devon
calves it was 100.3 lb (45.5 kg), a 96.3% difference. Reciprocal crossbred
calves from South Devon cows weighed 12.5% more at birth than calves
from Dexter cows. The difference increased to 28.6% at 7 months of age
and was 16.5% at 12 months. Results from this study show that maternal
effects due to dam size exist in the offspring and could continue into adult
Actual cow weights may not be the true genetic size of the breeds used
in this study. The variations in environmental conditions existing in the
United States could be involved in producing important effects of geno-
type-environment interaction on actual weight. In Montana (Pahnish et
al., 4), Charolais cows were only 10% heavier than Angus, whereas in
Missouri (Sagebiel et al., 7) the difference was 23%, and at Ona, Florida
(Peacock et al., 6), the difference was 26%.
The results from this study and those from the United Kingdom on
crossing breeds with large variations in genetic size show that maternal
effects on size are transmitted to offspring when genetic effects are
additive and performance of offspring is void of heterosis. However,
when crossing genetically divergent breeds where a high degree of heter-
osis for growth is obtained, maternal effects on size could be masked.
Even though maternal effects might occur in the first cross, these effects
would diminish in the next generation (offspring from F, cross females),
with little grand-dam maternal effects in the offspring.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Data have been presented for reproduction and production perform-
ance of reciprocal F, crossbred cows representing the Angus, Brahman,
and Charolais breeds. Results of this research showed no significant
differences between F, reciprocal cows for traits measured. Therefore,
under the environmental conditions of this study and with the breeds
utilized, the production potential of the F1 cross female was not signifi-
cantly affected by dam breed. Under environmental conditions similar to
this study, Brahman bulls can be mated to Angus cows or Angus bulls can
be mated to Brahman cows without materially affecting the performance
of the resulting F, females. The same principle exists in the production of
the other breed combinations represented in this study. However, under
conditions where the dam breed is not adapted, and growth of offspring
(F1 female) is so severely retarded that its genetic potential for growth is
not reached, its ultimate production could be affected. These conditions
would warrant the selection of the dam breed that is most adapted to the
environment to ensure that the potential of the F, female is reached.
1. Harvey. W. R. 1975. Least squares analyses of data with unequal subclass
numbers. USDA ARS. 11-4.
2. Joubert, D. M. 1954. The influence of winter nutrition depression on growth,
reproduction and production of cattle. J. Agr. Sci. 44:5.
3. Joubert, D. M.. and John Hammond. 1958. A crossbreeding experiment with
cattle with special reference to maternal effects on South Devon-Dexter
crosses. J. Agri. Sci. 51:325.
4. Pahnish, O. F., J. S. Brinks. J. J. Urick, B. W. Knapp, and T. M. Riley. 1969.
Results from crossing beef x beef and beef x dairy breeds: calf performance
to weaning. J. Anim. Sci. 28:291.
5. Peacock, F. M.. and M. Koger. 1982. Heterosis for weight in F1 crosses of the
Angus, Brahman and Charolais breeds as long yearlings (unpublished data).
6. Peacock, F. M., M. Koger, T. A. Olson, and J. R. Crockett. 1981. Additive
genetic and heterosis effects in crosses among cattle breeds of British, Euro-
pean and Zebu origin. J. Anim. Sci. 52:1007.
7. Sagebiel, J. A., G. F. Krouse, Bob Sibbit, L. Langford, A. J. Dyer, and John
F. Lasley. 1973. Effect of heterosis and maternal influence on gestation length
and birth weight in reciprocal crosses among Angus, Charolais and Hereford
cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 37:1273.
8. Turner, J. W. 1969. Preweaning production differences among reciprocal
crossbred beef cows. J. Anim. Sci. 29:857.
9. Walton, A., and J. Hammond. 1938. The maternal effect on growth and
conformation in Shire horse-Shetland pony crosses. Proc. Roy. Soc. (Biol.)
This publication was promulgated at a cost of $856.00, or 21.4 per copy,
to provide information on reproduction and production performance of
F, reciprocal crossbred cows.
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