Selection for reproductive rate in Rambouillet sheep: Estimated genetic change in reproductive rate

P. J. Burfening, S. D. Kachman, K. J. Hanford, D. Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rambouillet sheep were selected for high or low reproductive rate based on an index of reproductive rate, reproductive index = dam's total lifetime lambs born/(age in years-1). Selected ewes were first born in 1969. A random bred control line was established from the remaining foundation ewes with the first ewes born in 1973. Genetic variances were estimated with REML procedures for reproductive index and number of lambs born or weaned either per ewe exposed for breeding or per ewe lambing. Heritability of reproductive index was 0.26. Heritability for number of lambs born were 0.11 and 0.12 and for number of lambs weaned were 0.04 and 0.04 per ewe exposed for breeding and per ewe lambing, respectively. Breeding values for the reproductive index were estimated using the full animal model (BLUP) with the complete numerator relationship matrix on reproductive index, with fixed effect of year of birth of ewe and breeding values for number of lambs born or weaned either per ewe exposed for breeding or per ewe lambing, estimated with the fixed effects of year of birth of ewe and age of ewe and the random effect of permanent environmental effect among repeated lambing records. Genetic change was estimated as the regression of breeding value for reproductive index and number of lambs born or weaned either per ewe exposed for breeding or per ewe lambing on year of birth of the ewe. High and low lines both responded to selection for reproductive index as compared to the control line (P<0.01). The high line increased at a rate of b = 0.0134 ± 0.0006 reproductive index units and the low line decreased at a rate of b = - 0.0098 ± 0.0005 reproductive index units per year. Response to selection for reproductive index resulted in b = - 0.0074 ± 0.0007 and b = 0.0163 ± 0.0006 lambs per ewe exposed for breeding, and b = - 0.0041 ± 0.0002 and b = 0.0075 ± 0.0002 lambs weaned per ewe exposed for breeding in the low and high lines, respectively. There was a greater response to selection in the high line compared to the low line. These results indicated that the reproductive index did respond to selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-330
Number of pages14
JournalSmall Ruminant Research
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1993

Keywords

  • Breeding
  • Genetic change
  • Heritability
  • Reproductive rate
  • Sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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