|dc.description.abstract||The objectives of this dissertation were to evaluate genetic influences on ewe
productivity, its growth and reproductive components, and measures indicative of accelerated
lambing performance. Genetic parameters were estimated for total weight of litter weaned per
ewe lambing (TW) and its components, number of lambs born (NB), number of lambs weaned
(NW) and average weight of lambs weaned (AW), measured as traits of the ewe, and lamb
survival (LS) and weaning weight (WW), measured as traits of the lamb, in Katahdin sheep.
Heritabilities of TW, NB, NW, and AW, were 0.12, 0.12, 0.09, and 0.13, respectively.
Heritability of WW was 0.15 to 0.20. Genetic effects on LS were negligible. Genetic correlation
of TW with NB, NW, and AW averaged 0.30, 0.90, and 0.74, respectively, those of NB with NW
and AW averaged 0.72 and 0.01, respectively, and that between NW and AW averaged 0.50.
Direct genetic effects on WW were independent of NB and NW, but correlation between
maternal genetic effects on WW and animal genetic effects on NW averaged 0.35.
Ewe fertility, NB, LS, and WW were modeled using stochastic simulation and used to
derive NW, AW, and TW to test alternative predictors of genetic merit for TW. A random 8% of
WW observations were set to missing values and AW and TW were recalculated to evaluate the
effects of data reporting inconsistencies on efficacy of different prediction strategies. Four
alternative predictors of estimated breeding values (EBV) for TW involved direct univariate
prediction (TW1), an index of EBV for NW and AW (TW2), indirect prediction using data for
NW and AW and genetic correlations among NW, AW and TW (TW3), and indirect prediction
augmenting TW3 with data and genetic correlations involving NB (TW4). To validate efficacy
of predictors, daughter data sets were generated from the original ewes and their realized TW
were regressed on alternative predictors. Regression coefficients from TW1, TW3, and TW4
were close to the expected value of 0.50 whereas those from TW2 were less than 0.50. Model Rsquare
statistics were similar among predictors when there were no missing WW data but
regressions involving TW1 had lowest model R-square when some WW data was missing.
Ewe lamb fertility (ELF), ages at first, second, and third lambings (AGE1 to AGE3), first
and second lambing intervals (INT1 and INT2), and number of lambings by 38 mo of age
(LAMB3) were evaluated for an accelerated lambing Polypay flock. Relationships among these
traits and NB and WW were estimated. Heritability of ELF, AGE1, AGE2, AGE3, INT1, INT2,
and LAMB3 were 0.14, 0.39, 0.28, 0.36, 0.00, 0.09, and 0.27, respectively. Heritability of AGE2
and AGE3 were negligible after accounting for variation in AGE1. Genetic correlations of ELF
with AGE1 and AGE2 were -0.89, -0.91, respectively, and that with LAMB3 was 0.89. Genetic correlations of LAMB3 with AGE1 and AGE2 were -0.49 and -1.00, respectively. Genetic
correlations of ELF and LAMB3 with direct genetic effects on WW were close to -0.70, but
correlations with maternal genetic effects on WW were 0.88 and 0.58, respectively. Prolificacy
was independent of ELF and LAMB3.||en_US
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