Random regression analyses using B-splines to model growth of Australian Angus cattleKarin Meyer
Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351, Australia
(Received 4 October 2004; accepted 2 May 2005)
Abstract - Regression on the basis function of B-splines has been advocated as an alternative to orthogonal polynomials in random regression analyses. Basic theory of splines in mixed model analyses is reviewed, and estimates from analyses of weights of Australian Angus cattle from birth to 820 days of age are presented. Data comprised records on animals in 43 herds, with a high proportion of animals with 4 or more weights recorded. Changes in weights with age were modelled through B-splines of age at recording. A total of thirteen analyses, considering different combinations of linear, quadratic and cubic B-splines and up to six knots, were carried out. Results showed good agreement for all ages with many records, but fluctuated where data were sparse. On the whole, analyses using B-splines appeared more robust against "end-of-range" problems and yielded more consistent and accurate estimates of the first eigenfunctions than previous, polynomial analyses. A model fitting quadratic B-splines, with knots at 0, 200, 400, 600 and 821 days and a total of 91 covariance components, appeared to be a good compromise between detailedness of the model, number of parameters to be estimated, plausibility of results, and fit, measured as residual mean square error.
Key words: covariance function / growth / beef cattle / random regression / B-splines
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