Breeding value estimates of fertility traits in five small Swiss sheep populations

Burren, Alexander; Hagger, Christian; Aeschlimann, C.; Brunold, B.; Jörg, Hannes (2019). Breeding value estimates of fertility traits in five small Swiss sheep populations In: Book of abstracts of the 70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science. EAAP book of abstracts: Vol. 25 (p. 578). Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers 10.3920/978-90-8686-890-2

In 2018 breeding value estimates of fertility traits were introduced for the Swiss minor sheep breeds Charolais (CHS, litters=2,540), Dorper (DOP, litters=1,763), Shropshire (SHR, litters=1,130), Suffolk (SU, litters=2,030) and Texel (TEX, litters=2,355). There was used the same principle as for the four major Swiss sheep breeds namely White Alpine (WAS, litters=63,445), Black-Brown Mountain (SBS, litters=21,353), Valais Blacknose (SN, litters=31,668), and Brown Headed Meat sheep (BFS, litters=25,300). We selected the following four traits to assess the breeding value (BV) using REML and BLUP methods: age at first lambing (BV1), lambing interval (BV2), litter size one (BV3) and litter size two (BV4). The last two traits are the number of lambs at the first and second lambings. The pedigree data comprised 30,963, 12,322, 9,191, 18,593 and 18,743 for CHS, DOP, SHR, SU and TEX, respectively. The statistical model accounted for fixed effects of herd×year of the first lambing (BV1, 2, 3 and 4), season of the first lambing (BV1 and 3) and random effects of animals and residuals (BV1, 2, 3 and 4). The heritability estimates vary from 0.13-0.51 (age at first lambing), 0.05-0.13 (lambing interval), 0.08-0.11 (litter size one) and 0.01-0.05 (litter size two) for the four traits and the five breeds, respectively. This heritabilities correspond to the values from the major sheep breeds and are comparable between the breeds. The phenotypic correlations between all traits were positive and range from 0.02 to 0.34 for all breeds. On the other hand, 12 of the 30 genetic correlations were negative and range between -0.03 to -0.4. Most of the negative correlation coefficients were found for BV2-BV3 (DOP, TEX=-0.07, SU=-0.17, SHR=-0.4) and BV1-BV3 (TEX=-0.11, SU=-0.18, DOP=-0.36). The genetic correlations between BV3 and BV4 were 1.0 for the breeds DOP and SHR. The reasons for these high values could be the low number of litters. The other results seem to be plausible and show, that genetic improvement trough selection would be possible in sheep fertility traits.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Resource-efficient agricultural production systems
School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Agriculture


Burren, Alexander0000-0001-9948-7039;
Hagger, Christian;
Aeschlimann, C.;
Brunold, B. and
Jörg, Hannes


S Agriculture > SF Animal culture




EAAP book of abstracts


Wageningen Academic Publishers




Heidi Signer-Hasler

Date Deposited:

14 Jan 2020 12:31

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:29

Publisher DOI:



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