Genetic Parameters and Genetic Trends for Reproductive Traits of Santa Ines Sheep Kept in Extensive Environments in Brazil

Studying the Santa Ines sheep breed is important, as it is the most prevalent breed in Brazil and can adapt to many environments. This study included data were collected over a period of 12 years from 33 flocks in 10 Brazilian States. The estimation of variance components, genetic parameters and breeding values were obtained by DFREML method, using lineal mixed model in single-trait analysis. Traits of age at first lambing (AFL), lambing interval (LI), survivability (SU), litter size at birth (LSB), litter size at weaned (LSW),total litter weight at birth (TLWB) and total litter weight at weaning (TLWW) were assessed. The significance of the fixed effects to be included in the model was performed using statistic program R.

The effects of breeder and lambing year were significant (P<0.001). A remarkable phenotypic and permanent environmental variability were found in all traits. Direct heritability estimates were 0.13, 0.04, 0.01, 0.12, 0.03, 0.16 and 0.18 for AFL, LI, SU, LSB, LSW, TLWB and TLWW, respectively. The estimated fractions of variance due to the permanent environmental effects in any traits were high magnitude (0.79 to 0.97). The annual genetic gain has a slightly negative trend in all of them except for AFL and SU. Results indicate that change in environmental conditions of flock in addition to the direct selection for TLWB and TLWW, can be used as selection criteria for improving the productivity of this sheep.

Author(s): Aguirre EL, Mattos EC, Eler JP, Barreto Neto AD and Ferraz JB

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