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Live Animal, Carcass and End Product:

Genetic Parameters for Udder Quality
in Hereford Cattle

by Troy Smith, field editor, for Angus Journal®


Heather Bradford
Heather Bradford

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (June 13, 2013) — Udder quality is more than a convenience trait. Cows with acceptable udder suspension and teat size stay longer in the herd, reducing replacement rates and the associated costs. Poor udders are often associated with higher calf mortality or poor calf performance, when newborns have trouble nursing and may not receive timely or adequate colostrum. Weak udder suspension and large teat size can also lead to higher incidence of mastitis.


During the Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention, in Oklahoma City, Kansas State University graduate student Heather Bradford reviewed all the reasons why poor udder quality can be costly to producers. In a report to the Live Animal, Carcass and End Product Committee, Bradford also reported on recent work to assign heritability values to udder-quality traits.


Bradford reviewed the BIF guidelines for evaluating udder suspension according to the recommended numerical scoring system, explaining how the American Hereford Association provided scores representing more than 300 contemporary groups of 2- to 15-year-old females. Analysis indicated that udder quality is moderately heritable in beef cattle, and producers can select for it.


Results also showed a high genetic correlation between udder suspension and teat size (0.83), between overall udder score and udder suspension (0.70) and between overall udder score and teat size (0.72).


“So selection for one trait should result in improvement to the others, as well,” explained Bradford. “The American Hereford Association says the genetic trend indicates steady improvement (in udder quality) since 1989, based on phenotypic selection. But the Association hopes to make further improvement by including udder quality in their National Cattle Evaluation, and publishing EPDs and a selection index.”


Bradford said udder quality can serve as an indicator trait of cow longevity plus calf survivability and performance.


Return to the Newsroom for links to the PowerPoint presentation that accompanied this presentation.


Editor’s Note: This summary was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API). Through an agreement with the Beef Improvement Federation, we are encouraging reprinting of the articles to those who will adhere to the reprint guidelines available on this site. Please review those guidelines or contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270. PowerPoints are posted with permission of the presenter and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the presenter.

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Headquartered in Saint Joseph, Mo., API publishes the Angus Journal, the Angus Beef Bulletin, the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA, and the Angus Journal Daily, as well as providing online coverage of events and topics pertinent to cattlemen through the Angus Journal Virtual Library.  

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