Genetic parameters for ewe productivity traits in the Columbia, Suffolk and Targhee breeds

A M Abdulkhaliq, W R Harvey, C F Parker
Journal of Animal Science 1989, 67 (12): 3250-7
Estimates of repeatability and heritability were obtained for the following productivity traits of ewes: litter weight at birth (LWB) and weaning (LWW), litter size at birth (LSB), litter size alive at birth (NBA), litter size at weaning (LSW), neonatal survival rate (SRB) and preweaning survival rate (SRW). Phenotypic and genetic correlations were estimated for litter traits. The data set contained 6,394 ewe breeding records from three state stations over 10 yr on 1,731 ewes that were the progeny of 488 sires among three breeds (Columbia, Suffolk and Targhee). Pooled intra-station estimates of repeatability ranged from .11 to .22 for LWB and LWW among the three breeds. For litter size at birth, number born alive and litter size at weaning these estimates varied from .09 to .17 and for the survival traits (SRB and SRW) the variation was from .11 to .20. Intra-station estimates of heritability for the three breeds varied from .12 to .28 for LWB and LWW, and for LSB, NBA and LSW estimates varied from .05 to .35. Heritability estimates for survival traits (SRB and SRW) were low, ranging from .00 to .14. Phenotypic correlations among LWB, LWW, NBA and LSW ranged from .35 to .92 among the breed-station subclasses, with higher correlations occurring where a part-whole relationship existed. The study suggests that selection of ewes with high litter size at birth or at weaning and(or) litter weight at birth or at weaning will genetically improve total litter weight at weaning per ewe lambing.


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