Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2002. 80:3086–3098.


Genetic parameters from both single-trait and bivariate analyses for prolificacy, weight and wool traits were estimated using REML with animal models for Columbia sheep from data collected from 1950 to 1998 at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES), Dubois, ID. Breeding values from both single-trait and seven-trait analyses calculated using the parameters estimated from the single-trait and bivariate analyses were compared with respect to genetic trends. Number of observations were 31,401 for litter size at birth and litter size at weaning, 24,741 for birth weight, 23,903 for weaning weight, 29,572 for fleece weight and fleece grade, and 2,449 for staple length. Direct heritability estimates from single-trait analyses were 0.09 for litter size at birth, 0.06 for litter size at weaning, 0.27 for birth weight, 0.16 for weaning weight, 0.53 for fleece weight, 0.41 for fleece grade, and 0.55 for staple length. Estimate of direct genetic correlation between litter size at birth and weaning was 0.84 and between birth and weaning weights was 0.56. Estimate of genetic correlation between fleece weight and staple length was positive (0.55) but negative between fleece weight and fleece grade (−0.47) and between staple length and fleece grade (−0.70). Estimates of genetic correlations were positive but small between birth weight and litter size traits and moderate and positive between weaning weight and litter size traits. Fleece weight was lowly and negatively correlated with both litter size traits. Fleece grade was lowly and positively correlated with both litter size traits, while staple length was lowly and negatively correlated with the litter size traits. 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. Estimates of correlations between staple length and birth weight (0.05) and weaning weight were small (−0.04). Estimated breeding values averaged by year of birth from both the single-trait and multiple-trait analyses for the prolificacy and weight traits increased over time, but were unchanged for the wool traits. Estimated changes in breeding values over time did not differ substantially for single-trait and multiple-trait analyses, except for traits highly correlated with another trait that was responding to selection.