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The heritability of abortion in pedigree Charollais flocks

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Rebecca Darlay


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Foetal death, or abortion at term, in sheep is of major significance to the livestock industry, accounting for more than 4million pound lost per annum. We have investigated whether there is a genetic component to abortion within two flocks of pedigree Charollais sheep, one followed from 1989 to 2006, the other from 1992 to 2006. Abortion occurred at a rate of 5.74-8.78% per annum against a total mortality rate of 14-24%. By model covariate analysis we have shown that 15.5% aborting ewes went on to have one or more abortions and that this risk increased with parity (p = 0.006). Heritability estimates were approximately 0.08 as calculated by SOLAR, pedigreemm and ASRemI3, with sire and dam components of 0.046 and 0.048, respectively. Where the lamb was aborted, heritability estimates were highly variable according to the method employed, 0.046-0.378, with sex of the lamb being a significant covariate. This variability indicated one or more underlying, significant factors that were not measured in these analyses, potentially including infectious agents that may be involved. Nevertheless, the ASRem13 estimate (0.179) resolved to 0.074 variance attributable to the sire and 0.092 attributable to the dam, which, while not significant, was suggestive that genetic variants passed by the dam to the lamb may be of more weight than that from the sire in determining whether a lamb will abort. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Darlay R, Stear MJ, Mason S, Smith J, Shaw MA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal Reproduction Science

Year: 2014

Volume: 149

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 297-304

Print publication date: 01/10/2014

Online publication date: 03/07/2014

Acceptance date: 23/06/2014

ISSN (print): 0378-4320

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2232

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2014.06.028


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