With the high cost of feed for animal production, genetic selection for animals that metabolize feed more efficiently could result in substantial cost savings for cattle producers. The purpose of this study was to identify DNA markers predictive for differences among cattle for traits associated with feed efficiency. Crossbred steers were fed a high-corn diet for 140 days and average daily feed intake (ADFI), average daily gain (ADG), and residual feed intake (RFI) phenotypes were obtained. A region on chromosome 14 was previously associated with RFI in this population of animals. To develop markers with the highest utility for predicting an animal's genetic potential for RFI, we genotyped additional markers within this chromosomal region. These polymorphisms were genotyped on the same animals (n = 1066) and tested for association with ADFI, ADG and RFI. Six markers within this region were associated with RFI (P ≤ 0.05). After conservative correction for multiple testing, one marker at 25.09 Mb remained significant (P = 0.02) and is responsible for 3.6% of the RFI phenotypic variation in this population of animals. Several of these markers were also significant for ADG, although none were significant after correction. Marker alleles with positive effects on ADG corresponded to lower RFI, suggesting an effect increasing growth without increasing feed intake. All markers were also assessed for their effects on meat quality and carcass traits. All of the markers associated with RFI were associated with adjusted fat thickness (AFT, P ≤ 0.009) and three were also associated with hot carcass weight (HCW, P ≤ 0.003). Marker alleles associated with lower RFI were also associated with reduced AFT, and if they were associated for HCW, the effect was an increase in weight. These markers may be useful as prediction tools for animals that utilize feed more efficiently; however, validation with additional populations of cattle is required.
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