Selection for ovulation rate in a screened prolific flock identified a prolific family of Romneys in 1984 that descended from one ewe, and progeny tests for her male descendants carried out from 1985 to 1990 indicated the presence of a major gene (Inverdale) on the X- chromosome. One copy of the gene increases ovulation rate by about 1.0 and litter size by about 0.6. However, research in 1991 found that ewes with two copies of the gene have small non-functional 'streak' ovaries and are infertile. Many of these infertile ewes develop tumour-like structures on their ovaries and these are currently the subject of intensive research. In 1993 a prolific Romney flock in Tokoroa, with no known connection with A281, was also found to have the Inverdale gene. The place of the Inverdale gene in industry will be to increase prolificacy in ewe flocks mated to terminal sires, and a research programme has been established to identify a genetic market for ram breeders.

GH, Davis, JC McEwan, PF Fennessy, and KG Dodds

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 55, , 289-290, 1995
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