Direct responses in males and correlated responses for reproduction in females to selection for testicular size adjusted for body weight in young male lambs

C S Haley, G J Lee, M Ritchie, R B Land

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Selection based upon testicular diameter adjusted for body weight at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age was used to produce two lines of sheep, with either high or low testicular size. Ten generations of selection were carried out and the estimate of the realized heritability of the selection criterion was 0.53 +/- 0.01. There were significant positive correlated responses to selection for testicular diameter at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age, but the correlated responses in body weight at these ages were negative. In mature females, there were significant negative correlated responses to selection in premating body weight in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd breeding season and in the day of the first oestrus in the 2nd breeding season. Litter size per ewe mated had a small positive correlated response to selection in the second breeding season. This latter response appeared to be due to a positive correlated response in fertility, ewes from the High-line having a significantly higher probability of conceiving to a single mating than those from the Low-line. There was no significant correlated response in ovulation rate or litter size per ewe lambing and the genetic correlation between these traits and the selection criterion is likely to be close to zero. This may be due to the adjustment for body weight used, but it is possible that, in any event, body weight in young rams may be a better predictor of female ovulation rate than testicular diameter. These results do not rule out the possibility that testicular size in rams older than those selected would provide a good predictor of genetic merit for female ovulation rate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-96
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of reproduction and fertility
Volume89
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1990

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Estrus
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Litter Size
  • Male
  • Ovulation
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sheep
  • Testis

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