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The Effect of Non-genetic Factors on Birth Weight and Weaning Weight in Three Sheep Breeds of Zimbabwe

  • Assan, N. (Matopos Research Station) ;
  • Makuza, S.M. (Department of Animal Science, University of Zimbabwe)
  • Received : 2003.05.21
  • Published : 2005.02.01

Abstract

Sheep production is affected by genetic and non-genetic factors. A knowledge of these factors is essential for efficient management and for the accurate estimation of breeding values. The objective of this study was to establish the non-genetic factors which affect birth weight and weaning weight in Dorper, Mutton Merino and indigenous Sabi sheep breeds. A total of 2,625 birth and weaning weight records from Grasslands Research Station collected from 1991 through 1993, were used. The records were collected from indigenous Sabi (939), Dorper (807) and Mutton Merino (898) sheep. A mixed classification model containing the fixed effects of year, birth status and sex was used for identification of non-genetic factors. Sire within breed was included as a random effect. Two factor interactions and three factor interactions were important in indigenous Sabi, Mutton Merino and Dorper sheep. The mean birth weights were 4.37${\pm}$0.04 kg, 4.62${\pm}$0.04 kg and 3.29${\pm}$0.04 kg for Mutton Merino, Dorper and Sabi sheep, respectively. Sire had significant effects (p<0.05) on birth weight in Mutton Merino and indigenous Sabi sheep. Year of lambing had significant effects (p<0.05) on birth weight in indigenous Sabi, Mutton Merino and Dorper sheep. The effect of birth status was non significant in Dorper and Mutton Merino sheep while effect of birth status was significant on birth weight in indigenous Sabi sheep. In Indigenous Sabi sheep lambs born as singles (3.30${\pm}$0.05 kg) were 0.23 kg heavier than twins (3.07${\pm}$0.05 kg), in Mutton Merino lambs born as singles (3.99${\pm}$0.08 kg) were 0.07 kg heavier than twins (3.92${\pm}$0.08 kg) and in Dorper lambs born as singles (4.41${\pm}$0.04 kg) were 0.02 kg heavier than twins (4.39${\pm}$0.04 kg). On average males were heavier than females (p<0.05) weighing (3.32${\pm}$0.04 kg vs. 3.05${\pm}$0.07 kg) in indigenous Sabi, 4.73${\pm}$0.03 kg vs. 4.08${\pm}$0.05 in Dorper and 4.26${\pm}$0.07 kg vs. 3.66${\pm}$0.09 kg in Mutton Merino sheep. Two way factor interactions of sire*year, year*sex and sex*birth status had significant effects (p<0.05) on birth weight in indigenous Sabi, Mutton Merino and Dorper sheep while the effect of year*birth status was non significant on birth weight in Indigenous Sabi sheep. The three way factor interaction of year*sex*birth status had a significant effect (p<0.01) on birth weight in indigenous Sabi and Mutton Merino. Tupping weight fitted as a covariate had significant effects (p<0.001) on birth weight in indigenous Sabi, Mutton Merino and Dorper sheep. The mean weaning weights were 17.94${\pm}$0.31 kg, 18.19${\pm}$0.28 kg and 14.39${\pm}$0.28 kg for Mutton Merino, Dorper and Indigenous Sabi sheep, respectively. Effects of sire and sire*year were non significant on weaning weight in Dorper and Mutton Merino while year, sex and sex*year interaction had significant effects (p<0.001) on weaning weight. On average males were heavier than females (p<0.001) at weaning. The respective weaning weights were 18.05${\pm}$0.46 kg, 18.68${\pm}$0.19 kg, 14.14${\pm}$0.15 kg for males and 16.64${\pm}$0.60 kg, 16.41${\pm}$0.31 kg, 12.64${\pm}$0.32 kg for females in Mutton Merino, Dorper and Indigenous Sabi sheep. Lambs born as singles were significantly heavier at weaning than twins, 0.05 kg, 0.06 kg and 0.78 kg for Mutton Merino, Dorper and Indigenous Sabi sheep, respectively. Effect of tupping weight was highly significant on weaning weight. The three way factor interaction year*sex*birth status had a significant effect (p<0.01) on weaning weight. Correction for environmental effects is necessary to increase accuracy of direct selection for birth weight and weaning weight.

Keywords

Non-genetic Factors;Birth Weight;Weaning Weight;Sheep;Zimbabwe

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