Across flock genetic parameter estimation for yearling body weight and fleece traits in the South African Dohne Merino population
Accurate genetic parameter estimates are needed upon which to perform multiple-trait across flock breed analyses. Genetic parameters for yearling body weight (BW), clean fleece weight (CFW) and mean fibre diameter (MFD) were estimated using records of 107 389 individuals (the progeny of 1 530 sires and 45 178 dams) collected between 1992 and 2004 in the South African Dohne Merino population. Fixed effects included in the model were flock-year-season-sex- management group (1 594 classes), type of birth (singles, multiples), age of dam (2 - 7+ years) and age at measurement, fitted as a linear covariate (385 ± 12 days). Six different single-trait animal models were fitted, where different combinations of the following random effects were fitted: direct additive, the sire-flock interaction, the sire-flock-year-season interaction (SFYS), the dam genetic effect, the direct-maternal correlation and the dam permanent environmental effect. These analyses were followed by a three-trait analysis structured according to the log likelihood ratios obtained for the single-trait analysis. This analysis allowed the calculation of relevant correlations among traits together with their respective standard errors. Direct heritability estimates from the three-trait analysis were 0.17 for BW, 0.19 for CFW and 0.45 for MFD. Maternal heritability estimates were 0.01 for BW and 0.006 for CFW, with corresponding dam permanent environmental ratios of respectively 0.03 and 0.02. The genetic correlation between animal effects amounted to 0.48 for BW. Derived proportions of the total phenotypic variance due to SFYS were 0.02, 0.02 and 0.02, respectively. Genetic correlations of BW with CFW and MFD were 0.11 and 0.13, respectively, and of CFW with MFD 0.16. It was concluded that the inclusion of some form of a genotype by environmental interaction as part of the national evaluation is essential, although it controlled only a modest portion of the overall phenotypic variation. © South African Society for Animal Science.