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Asian-Australas J Anim Sci > Volume 22(4); 2009 > Article
Animal Breeding and Genetics
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2009;22(4): 459-464.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2009.80318    Published online March 4, 2009.
Genetic and Non-genetic Factors Affecting Mortality in Lori-Bakhtiari Lambs
M. Vatankhah*, M. A. Talebi
Correspondence:  M. Vatankhah,
Data and pedigree information for Lori-Bakhtiari sheep used in this study were 6,239 records of lamb mortality from 246 sires and 1,721 dams, collected from 1989 through 2007 from a Lori-Bakhtiari flock at Shooli station in Shahrekord. The traits investigated were cumulative lamb mortality from birth up to 7 days, up to 14 days, up to 21 days, and up to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 months of age. The models included fixed factors that had significant effects and random direct genetic, maternal genetic and maternal permanent environmental effects. Variance components were estimated using the restricted maximum likelihood procedure applying three animal models with and without maternal and common environmental effects. The overall mean of cumulative lamb mortality rate was 22.95% from birth to 1 year of age, while the overall mortality rate up to 3 and from 3 to 6 months of age was 6.14% and 12.76%, respectively. The mortality rate after 6 months of age declined as the lambs grew older. The age of dam had no important effect on lamb mortality. The type of birth was more important during the preweaning period than at later ages, and lamb mortality rate was higher in twins. The year of birth, month of birth and sex of lamb significantly (p??.01) affected the cumulative lamb mortality rate at all ages. The least square mean of mortality during the final one-third of the lambing period was higher than the first and middle one-third of the lambing period. Male lambs were found to be at a higher risk of mortality than females. Birth weight of the lamb had a highly significant (p??.01) effect on lamb mortality at all ages as a quadratic regression. Direct and maternal heritability estimates of lamb mortality ranged from 0.01 to 0.13 and 0.01 to 0.05, respectively. Direct heritability increased with age of lamb, while maternal effects (genetic and common environmental) were important in the preweaning period. These results indicate that lamb mortality can be reduced first through farm management practices and secondly by genetic selection. Both animal and maternal effects should be considered in breeding programmes for reducing lamb mortality at preweaning.
Keywords: Heritability; Non-genetic Factors; Lamb Mortality; Lori-Bakhtiari Sheep
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