Animal Science

Research Article

Application of a multiple-trait animal model for genetic evaluation of maternal and lamb traits in Norwegian sheep

I. Olesena1 p1, M. Svendsena1, G. Klemetsdala1 and T. A. Steinea1

a1 Department of Animal Science, Agricultural University of Norway, PO Box 5025, N-1432 Ås, Norway


A selection index for overall economic merit and five subindexes for maternal and lamb traits were constructed. For estimation of breeding values, two computer programs were developed. A multiple-trait animal model was programmed for the ewe traits including number of lambs born ofl-, 2- and 3-years-old ewes and ewe fleece weight of yearlings. In order to reduce the memory requirement, the lamb data (growth rate, carcass weight, carcass grade, fat% and lamb fleece iveight) were analysed by a reduced multiple-trait animal model including genetic maternal effect. Experiences with the computer programs in genetic evaluation of approximately 619 000 animals are presented. It is concluded that the models and computing strategy may be used for genetic evaluation in the national sheep breeding programme in Norway.

Relative economic values for all traits were derived from a profit equation on a 3-year-old ewe basis. The sensitivity towards changed economic values urns found to be low. Further, the genetic change in the ewe traits of the Norwegian breeds has been estimated, and a significant improvement was found, which was two to four times higher in the ram circles than outside. For breeding rams, the genetic change for number of lambs born was estimated to be approximately 0·01 lambs per ewe and year.

(Received June 28 1994)

(Accepted December 19 1994)


  • breeding value;
  • carcass traits;
  • genetic change;
  • maternal traits;
  • sheep


p1 Present address: Norwegian Center of Ecological Agriculture, Tingvoll Gard, N-6630 Tingvoll, Norway.