Phenotypic and genetic parameter estimates for reproductive traits in Zandi sheep

Kourosh Mohammadi, Mohammad Taghi Beigi Nassiri, Enayat Rahmatnejad, Masoud Sheikh, Jamal Fayazi, Amin Karimi Manesh
Tropical Animal Health and Production 2013, 45 (2): 671-7
This study reports on the phenotypic and genetic (co)variance components for reproductive traits in Zandi sheep, using between 1,859 and 2,588 records obtained from 577 ewes. The data were collected from the Khojir Breeding Station of Zandi sheep in Tehran, Iran from 1994 to 2008. The basic traits were litter size at birth (LSB), litter size at weaning (LSW), litter mean weight per lamb born (LMWLB), and litter mean weight per lamb weaned (LMWLW), and the composite traits were total litter weight at birth (TLWB) and total litter weight at weaning (TLWW). Genetic analyses were carried out using the restricted maximum likelihood method that was explored by fitting the additive direct genetic effects and permanent environmental effects of the ewes as random effects and the ewe age at lambing and lambing year as fixed effects for all of the investigated traits. Akaike's information criterion was used to choose the most appropriate model. LSB, LSW, LMWLB, LMWLW, TLWB, and TLWW direct heritability estimates were 0.07, 0.05, 0.12, 0.10, 0.08, and 0.14, respectively. The estimated fractions of variance due to the permanent environmental effects of the ewe ranged from 0.03 for LMWLB to 0.08 for LMWLW and TLWW. Corresponding repeatability estimates ranged from 0.10 for LSW to 0.22 for TLWW. Direct genetic correlations varied from -0.61 for LSB-LMWLB to 0.88 for LSB-LSW and LSB-TLWB. Results indicate that genetic change depends not only on the heritability of traits, but also on the observed phenotypic variation; therefore, improvement of non-genetic factors should be included in the breeding programs.


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