Genetic and Environmental Trends for Milk Production Traits in Sheep Estimated with Test-day Model

  • Oravcova, Marta ;
  • Pesovicva, Dana
  • Received : 2007.11.28
  • Accepted : 2008.02.27
  • Published : 2008.08.01


Data from milk performance testing were used to analyze genetic and environmental trends for purebred Tsigai, Improved Valachian and Lacaune sheep. 103,715 (Tsigai), 212,962 (Improved Valachian) and 2,196 (Lacaune) test-day records gathered by the State Breeding Institute of the Slovak Republic entered the analyses. The respective pedigree data comprised 23,724 (Tsigai), 51,401 (Improved Valachian) and 438 (Lacaune) records. The multiple-trait, mixed model methodology was used to predict the breeding values for daily milk yield, fat and protein content and to estimate the fixed and remaining random effects assumed to affect the above mentioned traits, separately for each breed. The breeding values for daily milk yield were adjusted for 150-day standardized lactation length by multiplying with the constant 150, as the breeding goal of the selection scheme in Slovakian sheep is to increase 150-day milk production and constant heritability throughout the whole lactation is assumed. The genetic trends were expressed as changes in averages of breeding values across birth years of animals. For Tsigai and Lacaune breeds, cumulative genetic changes over the analyzed period were 3.8 and 5.1 kg for 150-day milk, 0 and -0.16% for fat content and 0 and -0.12% for protein content. For Improved Valachian breed, either a low (1.6 kg for 150-day milk yield) or zero (fat and protein content) cumulative genetic change was found. The environmental trends were calculated as averages of solutions for flock-test day effect across years and months in which measurements were taken. A distinctive cyclical pattern which reflected short-time variation in milk production traits was found. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are given and discussed.


Sheep;Milk Yield;Fat and Protein Content;Animal Model;Genetic and Environmental Trends


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