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Title: Sexual maturity and yearling reproductive performance in ewes: Genetic analysis and implications for breeding programs
Contributor(s): Newton, Joanna Eliza (author); Brown, Daniel  (supervisor); Dominik, Sonja  (supervisor)orcid ; van der Werf, Julius  (supervisor)orcid ; Bunter, Kim (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2016
Copyright Date: 2015
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: The successful breeding of ewes before the age of 12 months presents an opportunity to improve flock reproduction efficiency and increase returns for sheep producers. However, uptake of this practice is currently low in Australia and New Zealand. A contributing factor to this is that reproductive performance at 1 year of age is lower and more variable than in older ewes; between flocks and also from year to year. Whilst previous research has explored what factors contribute to successful reproduction at 1 year of age, there is no universally accepted measure of puberty and sexual maturity in sheep nor is there an accurate phenotypic predictor of yearling reproductive success. Although established genetic correlations between reproduction and production traits exist, reproduction has previously been analysed as a repeated records trait across parities, rather than treating first parity as a separate trait. Model studies show that genomic information offers the opportunity to select animals more accurately at younger ages. However the implications of a lower and more variable fertility rate of ewes mated prior to 1 year of age has been largely ignored. The aim of this thesis was to evaluate the impact of mating ewes prior to 1 year of age on flock genetic progress and to quantify the relationship between potential pubertal traits, yearling reproduction traits, reproduction traits at later parities and other key production traits.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research Codes: 070206 Animal Reproduction
070201 Animal Breeding
060412 Quantitative Genetics (incl Disease and Trait Mapping Genetics)
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 830311 Sheep - Wool
830310 Sheep - Meat
Rights Statement: Copyright 2015 - Joanna Eliza Newton
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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Appears in Collections:Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU)
Thesis Doctoral

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