a1 Animal Genetics and Breeding Division, Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute, Avikanagar-304501, via Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
(Co)variance components and genetic parameters of weight at birth (BWT), weaning (3WT), 6, 9 and 12 months of age (6WT, 9WT and 12WT, respectively) and first greasy fleece weight (GFW) of Bharat Merino sheep, maintained at Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute, Avikanagar, Rajasthan, India, were estimated by restricted maximum likelihood, fitting six animal models with various combinations of direct and maternal effects. Data were collected over a period of 10 years (1998 to 2007). A log-likelihood ratio test was used to select the most appropriate univariate model for each trait, which was subsequently used in bivariate analysis. Heritability estimates for BWT, 3WT, 6WT, 9WT and 12WT and first GFW were 0.05 ± 0.03, 0.04 ± 0.02, 0.00, 0.03 ± 0.03, 0.09 ± 0.05 and 0.05 ± 0.03, respectively. There was no evidence for the maternal genetic effect on the traits under study. Maternal permanent environmental effect contributed 19% for BWT and 6% to 11% from 3WT to 9WT and 11% for first GFW. Maternal permanent environmental effect on the post-3WT was a carryover effect of maternal influences during pre-weaning age. A low rate of genetic progress seems possible in the flock through selection. Direct genetic correlations between body weight traits were positive and ranged from 0.36 between BWT and 6WT to 0.94 between 3WT and 6WT and between 6WT and 12WT. Genetic correlations of 3WT with 6WT, 9WT and 12WT were high and positive (0.94, 0.93 and 0.93, respectively), suggesting that genetic gain in post-3WT will be maintained if selection age is reduced to 3 months. The genetic correlations of GFW with live weights were 0.01, 0.16, 0.18, 0.40 and 0.32 for BWT, 3WT, 6WT, 9WT and 12WT, respectively. Correlations of permanent environmental effects of the dam across different traits were high and positive for all the traits (0.45 to 0.98).
(Received February 16 2009)
(Accepted September 01 2009)
(Online publication November 03 2009)