Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

March 2000


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2000. 78:846–858.


Genetic parameters for Columbia, Polypay, Rambouillet, and Targhee sheep were estimated using REML with animal models for prolificacy, weight, and wool traits. All bivariate analyses included a covariance between additive genetic effects for the two traits plus appropriate additional covariances. Number of observations by breed ranged from 5,140 to 7,095 for prolificacy traits, from 7,750 to 9,530 for weight traits, and from 4,603 to 34,746 for wool traits. Heritability estimates ranged from .03 to .11 for prolificacy traits (litter size at birth and litter size at weaning), from .09 to .26 for weight traits (birth weight and average daily gain), and from .25 to .53 for wool traits (fleece weight, fleece grade and staple length). Estimates of direct genetic correlations among prolificacy and among weight traits were positive and ranged from .58 to 1.00 and .18 to 1.00, respectively. Estimates of direct genetic correlation between fleece weight and staple length were positive (.50 to .70) but were negative between fleece weight and fleece grade (−.60 to −.34) and between staple length and fleece grade (−.72 and −.40). Prolificacy and wool traits were essentially uncorrelated. Weight and prolificacy traits were slightly positively correlated. Weight traits had a moderate positive direct genetic correlation with fleece weight and staple length, but were uncorrelated with fleece grade. These estimates of genetic parameters between prolificacy, weight, and wool traits can be used to construct multiple- trait selection indexes for dual-purpose sheep.