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Title: Across population genetic parameters for wool, growth, and reproduction traits in Australian Merino sheep: 2. Estimates of heritability and variance components
Contributor(s): Safari, E (author); Fogarty, N M (author); Gilmour, A R (author); Atkins, K D (author); Mortimer, S I (author); Swan, Andrew (author); Brien, F D (author); Greeff, J C (author); Van Der Werf, Julius Herman (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2007
DOI: 10.1071/AR06162
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Abstract: Precise estimates of genetic parameters are required for genetic evaluation systems. This study combined data from 7 research resource flocks across Australia to estimate variance components and genetic parameters for production traits in the Australian Merino sheep. The flocks were maintained for several generations and represented contemporary Australian Merino fine, medium, and broad wool bloodlines over the past 30 years. Over 110 000 records were available for analysis for each of the major wool traits, and 50 000 records for reproduction and growth traits with over 2700 sires and 25 000 dams. A linear mixed animal model was used to analyse 6 wool traits comprising clean fleece weight (CFW), greasy fleece weight (GFW), fibre diameter (FD), yield (YLD), coefficient of variation of fibre diameter (CVFD), and standard deviation of fibre diameter (SDFD), 4 growth traits comprising birth weight (BWT), weaning weight (WWT), yearling weight (YWT), and hogget weight (HWT), and 4 reproduction traits comprising fertility (FER), litter size (LS), lambs born per ewe joined (LB/EJ), and lambs weaned per ewe joined (LW/EJ). The range of direct heritability estimates for the wool traits was 0.42 ± 0.01 for CFW to 0.68 ± 0.01 for FD. For growth traits the range was 0.18 ± 0.01 for BWT to 0.38 ± 0.01 for HWT, and for reproduction traits 0.045 ± 0.01 for FER to 0.074 ± 0.01 for LS. Significant maternal effects were found for wool and growth, but not reproduction traits. There was significant covariance between direct and maternal genetic effects for all wool and growth traits except for YWT. The correlations between direct and maternal effects ranged from –0.60 ± 0.02 for GFW to –0.21 ± 0.10 for SDFD in the wool traits and from –0.21 ± 0.03 for WWT to 0.25 ± 0.08 for HWT in the growth traits. Litter effects were significant for all wool and growth traits and only for LS in reproduction traits. The mating sire was fitted in the models for reproduction traits and this variance component accounted for 21, 17, and 8% of the total phenotypic variation for FER, LB/EJ, and LW/EJ, respectively. The implications of additional significant variance components for the estimation of heritability are discussed.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 58(2), p. 177-184
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Melbourne, Australia
ISSN: 0004-9409
Field of Research (FOR): 060412 Quantitative Genetics (incl Disease and Trait Mapping Genetics)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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