Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Genetic and phenotypic parameters for reproduction, production and bodyweight traits in Australian fine-wool Merino sheep

S. Dominik A C and A. A. Swan B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Agriculture and Food, New England Highway, Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia.

B Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), a joint venture of NSW Department of Primary Industries and University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: Sonja.Dominik@csiro.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15738
Submitted: 21 October 2015  Accepted: 4 August 2016   Published online: 23 September 2016

Abstract

The present study estimated phenotypic and genetic relationships between wool production, reproduction and bodyweight traits in Australian fine-wool Merino sheep. The data for the study originated from the CSIRO Fine Wool Project, Armidale, Australia. Data on wool characteristics, measured at ~10 and 22 months of age, bodyweight and several reproduction traits across consecutive lambing opportunities were analysed. The genetic correlations were moderately negative between fibre diameter measured as yearling and adult, and lamb survival (rg = –0.34 ± 0.15 and rg = –0.28 ± 0.14 respectively) and total number of lambs weaned (rg = –0.32 ± 0.21 and rg = –0.40 ± 0.21 respectively). The genetic correlations of yearling and adult greasy and clean fleece weights with number of lambs weaned and fecundity showed moderately to highly negative relationships and a moderately negative correlation with the number of fetuses at pregnancy scanning. Phenotypic correlations between reproduction and wool production traits were estimated to be zero, with the exception of bodyweight showing low to moderate positive phenotypic correlations with total number of lambs born and weaned. Genetic variances were generally low for the reproduction traits and resulted in low heritability estimates (from h2 = 0.03 ± 0.01 to h2 = 0.12 ± 0.13), with the exception of total number of lambs born (h2 = 0.25 ± 0.03). The study indicated that parameter estimation and trait definition of lifetime reproduction records require careful consideration and more work in this area is required.

Additional keywords: heritability, life reproduction.


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