Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version

October 1991


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 1991. 69:4801-4809. Copyright American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Survival of 16,838 potential embryos was determined by counting corpora lutea and fetuses at 50 d of gestation for 1,081 litters by 225 sires. These data, coded as 1 or 0 depending on whether an ovulation was represented by a fetus, were used to estimate direct and maternal additive genetic variances and their covariance for embryonic survival. Data were from fist-parity gilts of a Large White-Landrace composite population subdivided into two lines, one selected for an index of ovulation rate and embryonic survival for seven generations and a contemporary control line. Variance components were obtained by ANOVA and expectations of covariances among relatives and by derivative-free restricted maximum likelihood (DFREML) in an animal model. As a trait of the embryo, heritability of direct effects obtained with ANOVA was 3.8%, heritability of maternal effects was 1.5%, and the genetic correlation between them was -.51. After adjustment of embryonic survival for ovulation rate, lower estimates of each parameter were obtained with ANOVA. Heritability of embryonic survival as a trait of the dam was 9 to 10%. Estimates of heritability of both direct and maternal effects obtained with DFREML were < 1% and the genetic correlation between them was -.64. When survival of embryos from only those dams with 15 or more ovulations was analyzed, heritability of maternal effects was 4.4%. Estimates of common environmental effects on embryonic survival ranged from 5 to 7%.