Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2003. 81:630–640.


Genetic parameters from both single-trait and bivariate analyses for prolificacy, weight, and wool traits were estimated using REML with animal models for Targhee sheep from data collected from 1950 to 1998 at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, Dubois, ID. Breeding values from both single-trait and seven-trait analyses calculated with the parameters estimated from the single-trait and bivariate analyses were compared across years of birth with respect to genetic trends. The numbers of observations were 38,625 for litter size at birth and litter size at weaning, 33,994 for birth weight, 32,715 for weaning weight, 36,807 for fleece weight and fleece grade, and 3,341 for staple length. Direct heritability estimates from single-trait analyses were 0.10 for litter size at birth, 0.07 for litter size at weaning, 0.25 for birth weight, 0.22 for weaning weight, 0.54 for fleece weight, 0.41 for fleece grade, and 0.65 for staple length. Estimate of direct genetic correlation between litter size at birth and weaning was 0.77 and between birth and weaning weights was 0.52. The estimate of genetic correlation between fleece weight and staple length was positive (0.54), but was negative between fleece weight and fleece grade (−0.47) and between staple length and fleece grade (−0.69). Estimates of genetic correlations were near zero between birth weight and litter size traits and small and positive between weaning weight and litter size traits. Fleece weight was slightly and negatively correlated with both litter size traits. Fleece grade was slightly and positively correlated with both litter size traits. Estimates of correlations between staple length and litter size at birth (-0.14) and litter size at weaning (0.05) were small. Estimates of correlations between weight traits and fleece weight were positive and low to moderate. Estimates of correlations between weight traits and fleece grade were negative and small, whereas estimates between weight traits and staple length were positive and small. Estimated breeding values averaged by year of birth from both the single- and seven-trait analyses for the prolificacy and weight traits increased over time, whereas those for fleece weight decreased slightly and those for the other wool traits were unchanged. Estimated changes in breeding values over time did not differ substantially for the single-trait and seven-trait analyses, except for traits highly correlated with another trait that was responding to selection.