Awda, B. J., Miller, S. P., Montanholi, Y. R., Vander Voort, G., Caldwell, T., Buhr, M. M. and Swanson, K. C. 2013. The relationship between feed efficiency traits and fertility in young beef bulls. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 93: 185-192. Great efforts have been taken in recent years for improving feed efficiency in beef cattle. Despite there being several studies on biological factors associated with this trait, little is known about the potential relationships between fertility and feed efficiency in beef cattle. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between feed efficiency traits and bull fertility traits [sperm motility, viability and scrotal circumference (SC)]. From a total of 328 crossbred beef bulls that were subjected to a performance test (112 d in each of 6 yr), SC was measured and semen collected from 110 bulls using the electroejaculation method (average age±SE=417±2.5 d). Sperm were extended, cooled, and frozen in liquid nitrogen. Two residual feed intake (RFI) measures were considered with different prediction models for dry matter intake (DMI), RFIKoch included size and growth rate and RFIbkft included the additional adjustment for backfat thickness (BKFT). Sperm viability, motility and progressive motility of the 10 bulls with the greatest RFIKoch (Hi-RFIKoch) were greater than those of the 10 bulls with the lowest RFIKoch (Lo-RFIKoch; P<0.05, 0.01, and 0.05, respectively). Sperm motility (P<0.01), progressive motility and SC (P<0.05) of the 10 bulls with the greatest RFIbkft (Hi-RFIbkft) were greater than those of the 10 bulls with the lowest RFIbkft (Lo-RFIbkft). In summary, these data indicate that young beef bulls with greater feed efficiency have decreased sperm motility, sperm viability and SC, which is an undesirable effect of selection for improved feed efficiency that needs to be addressed through multiple trait selection.
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