Comparison of B-splines and non-linear functions to describe growth patterns and predict mature weight of female beef cattle
Blanco Alibés, Mireia
Casasús Pueyo, Isabel
Cortés Lacruz, Xavier
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The objective of this study was to compare the ability of Basis spline (B-spline) models and five non-linear functions (Richards, Brody, Von Bertalanffy, Gompertz and Logistic) to describe the growth of females of a beef cattle breed and predict cow mature weight (A). Random regression models that included animal variation within function parameters were fitted using mixed model procedures. Comparisons were made among these functions for goodness of fit, standardised residuals and biological interpretability of the growth curve parameters. The B-spline function showed the best goodness of fit and within non-linear functions, the Richards and Von Bertalanffy functions estimated bodyweight at different periods accurately. The method of fitting the residual variance that provided the best goodness of fit in the model was the constant plus power variance function. The Richards function was found to be the best non-linear function and was compared with the B-spline function to predict mature weight. When the A parameter was estimated using fixed effects, it had a low correlation with the actual mature weight of the cow and the use of this estimate yielded no more gain in predictive accuracy of mature weight than the use of average breed mature weight. When A was estimated using fixed and random effects, it had a moderate correlation with actual mature weight for the B-spline and Richards functions. The use of both types of effects to estimate the maturity index reduced the error compared with the use of average mature weight, especially for the B-spline function, which is recommended as the best function to describe animal growth and predict mature weight.