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Title: Inclusion of skin follicle traits in selection indices in breeding programs improves genetic gain in Australian fine-wool Merinos
Contributor(s): Fozi, M Asadi (author); Van Der Werf, Julius H  (author)orcid ; Swan, Andrew  (author)
Publication Date: 2007
DOI: 10.1071/AR06347
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Abstract: Genetic parameters for skin follicle traits, wool traits, body weight, and number of lambs weaned per ewe joined were estimated for 5108 10-month-old Australian fine-wool Merinos born between 1990 and 1996. These animals were descended from 261 sires and 2508 dams. The skin follicle number index that is based on skin surface area, and primary, secondary, or total follicle density were introduced as possible early-age selection criteria estimated at 6 months of age. Heritability estimates for total, secondary, and primary follicle number index were 0.45±0.04, 0.46±0.04, and 0.38±0.04, respectively. The genetic correlations of total follicle number index with clean fleece weight, mean fibre diameter, staple strength, coefficient of variation of fibre diameter, body weight, and number of lambs weaned were 0.16, −0.67, 0.00, 0.03, 0.22, and 0.22, respectively. Responses to selection on indices including and excluding follicle traits were calculated based on the genetic parameters estimated, and with annual responses calculated using an optimised age structure. On average, 10% greater response was predicted when total follicle number index was used as an additional selection criterion in different micron premium scenarios. In comparison, skin follicle density had a smaller effect on genetic improvement. The extra response was ∼1%. Similar index responses were obtained when total follicle number index was used as a replacement selection criterion for clean fleece weight, mean fibre diameter, and coefficient of variation of fibre diameter for breeding objectives with low emphasis on fibre diameter. In objectives with high emphasis on fibre diameter, unfavourable correlated responses in staple strength and CV of fibre diameter limited the effectiveness of using total follicle number index as a selection criterion. Although the use of total follicle number index as an additional selection criterion can be favourable for some breeding objectives, measuring this trait is currently cost prohibitive to inclusion in Merino breeding programs.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 58(9), p. 921-927
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 1836-5795
Field of Research (FOR): 070201 Animal Breeding
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 830311 Sheep - Wool
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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Appears in Collections:Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU)
Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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