In this paper, we examined the effects of an 11-bp mutation within the GDF-8 gene, originally identified in Belgian Blue cattle, in the South Devon breed. The mutation was found at moderate frequency (0.37) in the South Devon population. We quantified the effects of this mutation on growth, body composition and calving traits in South Devon cattle. We found that the mutation significantly increased muscle score and calving difficulty and decreased fat depth. The mutation did not significantly affect weight at 200 and 400 days or muscle depth. Its effect on muscle score and fat depth was additive while its effect on calving difficulty was recessive. The mutation accounted for a significant proportion of the phenotypic variance in muscle score and calving difficulty. There was an economic benefit of the mutation for this data set, however, calculations were sensitive to changes in the parameter values. Additional data would be required to refine these calculations.
Keywords: GDF-8, myostatin, South Devon cattle, double muscling, muscle hypertrophy