Assessing for genetic and environmental effects on ruminant feed quality in barley (Hordeum vulgare)

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Fox, GP, Bowman, JGP, Kelly, A, Inkerman, PA, Poulsen, DME & Henry, RJ 2008, 'Assessing for genetic and environmental effects on ruminant feed quality in barley (Hordeum vulgare)', Euphytica, vol. 163, no. 2, pp. 249-257.

The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10681-007-9638-5

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Grain samples from a combined intermediate and advanced stage barley breeding trial series, grown at two sites in two consecutive years were assessed for detailed grain quality and ruminant feed quality. The results indicated that there were significant genetic and environmental effects for “feed” traits as measured using grain hardness, acid detergent fibre (ADF), starch and in-sacco dry matter digestibility (ISDMD) assays. In addition, there was strong genotypic discrimination for the regressed feed performance traits, namely Net Energy (NE) and Average Daily Gain (ADG). There was considerable variation in genetic correlations for all traits based on variance from the cultivars used, sites or laboratory processing effects. There was a high level of heritability ranging from 89% to 88% for retention, 60% to 80% for protein and 56% to 68% for ADF. However, there were only low to moderate levels of heritability for the feed traits, with starch 30–39%, ISDMD 55–63%, ADF 56–68%, particle size 47–73%, 31–48% NE and ADG 44–51%. These results suggest that there were real differences in the feed performance of barleys and that selection for cattle feed quality is potentially a viable option for breeding programs.

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