Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 March 2009
The post-weaning growth, frame size and body condition of Hereford (H × H), Brahman × Hereford (B × H), Simmental × Hereford (S × H) and Friesian × Hereford (F × H) heifers were evaluated on three pasture systems in each of five years. One group of heifers was grown from weaning (at 8 months of age) to 18 months on the high-pasture system, which included supplementation with grain, while the other two groups were grown to 30 months on pastures of medium or low quality. Pasture effects were large compared with differences between years, with average daily gains between weaning and 18 months of 552, 275 and 97 g/day on high, medium and low pastures, respectively. Genotype had a significant effect on all measurements. Pasture × genotype interaction was significant in most instances. While crosses grew faster and were heavier than H × H on all pastures, S × H were heaviest by 18 months on high pasture, with B × H heaviest at all ages up to 30 months on both medium and low pastures. There was little difference in live weight between B × H and F × H on high pasture, or between S × H and F × H on medium pasture, whereas F × H was heavier than S × H on low pasture. There were concomitant differences in measures of skeletal size, but when adjusted allometrically to a common live weight, pasture effects were removed, while differences between genotypes remained. At a common live weight F × H had the largest height, length and pelvic area, but shared the lowest body condition with S × H. Pelvic height was greatest among B × H heifers, but this cross had similar body length, condition and subcutaneous fat cover to H × H. The pattern of genotype × pasture interaction observed in this study was similar to that observed by Darnell, Hearnshaw & Barlow (1987) for growth rate among contemporary steers located in different environments.