Model comparisons and genetic parameter estimates of growth and the Kleiber ratio in Shal sheep
Genetic and phenotypic parameters were estimated for lamb growth traits for the Shal sheep using an animal model. Data on lamb growth performance were extracted from available performance records at the Shal sheep Station in Qazvin, Iran. Studied traits were body weights of lambs at birth (BW), at 3 months of age as weaning weight (WW), 6 months weight (6MW), 9 months weight (9MW), yearling weight (YW), average daily gain from birth to weaning (ADG) and Kleiber ratio from birth to weaning (KR). Significant random effects for each trait were determined by fitting additive direct genetic effects, additive maternal effects, covariance between additive direct and additive maternal effects, maternal permanent environmental and maternal temporary environmental (common litter) effects under twelve animal models. Univariate analyses were carried out under the most appropriate model, determined by AIC test. Direct heritability estimates for BW, WW, ADG, KR, 6MW, 9MW and YW were 0.13, 0.19, 0.18, 0.05, 0.16, 0.18 and 0.19, respectively. Maternal additive genetic effects were fitted only for BW and WW; corresponding estimates of 0.12 and 0.10 obtained for maternal heritability of BW and WW, respectively. Maternal permanent environmental effects have low contribution in expression of KR and lead to estimates of 0.06 and 0.06 for maternal permanent environmental variance as a proportion of phenotypic variance (c 2) of these traits, respectively. All pre-weaning traits, except KR, were affected by litter effects. The magnitude of ratio of common litter variance to phenotypic variance (l 2) was 0.05, 0.12 and 0.14 for BW, WW and ADG, respectively. Direct genetic correlations were positive and ranged from 0.09 for KR-YW to 0.80 for WW-ADG; phenotypic ones ranged from 0.18 for KR-YW to 0.87 for WW-ADG.