Genetic Analysis of Pre-weaning and Post-weaning Growth Traits of Mecheri Sheep under Dry Land Farming Conditions

Thiruvenkadan, A.K.;Karunanithi, K.;Muralidharan, J.;Babu, R. Narendra

  • Received : 2010.10.07
  • Accepted : 2011.01.03
  • Published : 2011.08.01


Data on 2,365 Mecheri sheep (1,201 males and 1,164 females), maintained at the Mecheri Sheep Research Station, Pottaneri, India, and recorded between 1979 and 2006, were analysed to study the growth related traits and their genetic control. The body weights at different ages (i.e. at birth, weaning (3 months), 6, 9 and 12 months) were recorded and collected from the birth and growth registers maintained in the farm. The average weights of Mecheri sheep at birth, and at 12 months of age were $2.24{\pm}0.01$ and $16.81{\pm}0.15$ kg respectively. The pre- and post-weaning average daily weight gains were $63.84{\pm}0.75$ and $29.52{\pm}0.43$ g respectively. Study revealed a significant difference with the period of lambing on body weight, weight gain and efficiency in weight gain at different stages of growth. Males were heavier and had a higher weight gain than females at almost all stages of growth and the differences tended to increase with age. The direct heritability estimates increased from birth to six months of age and then decreased. The direct heritabilities of all body weights at different stages of growth were low to moderate in magnitude and the values at birth, weaning, six, nine and 12 months of age were 0.08, 0.17, 0.21, 0.13 and 0.10 respectively. For the estimation of heritability at birth and three months body weights, the direct additive genetic and maternal additive genetic effects have to be taken into account and for the estimation of six months weight, the direct additive genetic and maternal permanent environmental effects have to be included in the model. The estimates of heritability, phenotypic and genetic correlations among the different body weights indicated that the selection for improving the body weights at different traits should be done on the basis of three or six months weight because of higher heritability estimates and having higher genetic correlations with other traits.


Mecheri Sheep;Growth Rate;Heritability;Repeatability


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