SIL provides opportunity for inclusion of information on mature ewe body weight in animal evaluations. This paper reports estimates of the parameters needed for these evaluations. Traits analysed were: weaning weight (WWT) and hogget liveweight in May (ALW); hogget yearling liveweight (HLW) and greasy fleece weight (HFW); and pre-mating body weights (ELW), number of lambs born (NLB) and greasy fleece weights of ewes at 2 to 5 years of age. EFW and especially ELW, were highly repeatable (>0.9), the pattern of genetic correlations suggesting that breeding ewes had reached maturity in these traits by 40 months of age. Direct and maternal genetic effects on WWT showed similar heritabilities (0.14±0.02 & 0.18±0.02) and were positively correlated (0.20±0.08). Maternal influences on traits measured at old ages were much reduced, direct heritabilities being similar to published estimates. WWT showed a high direct genetic correlation with LW8 and HLW (0.82±0.02), but lower with ELW (0.70±0.06 for 3-year old ewes). LW8 and HLW showed even higher direct genetic correlations with ELW (of the order of 0.90±0.02). EFW was highly correlated genetically with HFW (0.80±0.03), HLW (0.25±0.04), ELW (0.23±0.05) and LW8 (0.21±0.04). Dual-purpose genetic response predictions were derived using SIL’s recently revised relative economic values for a dual-purpose index. Its correlation with aggregate breeding value was 0.67. It predicted positive selection responses (per generation and standard deviation of selection pressure) in all traits: LW8 (2.1 kg), EFW (0.14 kg), NLB (0.038 lambs/ewe) and ELW (2.4 kg or 87% of the predicted single trait response despite the negative economic weight for this trait). Restraining the response in ELW to zero required a ten-fold increase in the negative relative economic value for this trait, and reduced the correlation of the index with aggregate breeding merit to 58% of its previous value. Such restriction greatly increased the relative contribution of fleece weight to economic response, made little difference to the contribution of NLB (although the absolute rate of progress was nearly halved), and reduced the contribution of growth; maternal effects on weaning weight became relatively more important.

JN, Clarke, JL Dobbie, KR Jones, AL Wrigglesworth, and SM Hickey

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 60, Hamilton, 203-206, 2000
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