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Type: Journal article
Title: A review of the genetic and epigenetic factors affecting lamb survival
Author: Brien, F.
Cloete, S.
Fogarty, N.
Greeff, J.
Hebart, M.
Hiendleder, S.
Edwards, J.
Kelly, J.
Kind, K.
Kleemann, D.
Plush, K.
Miller, D.
Citation: Animal Production Science, 2014; 54(6):667-693
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 1836-0939
Statement of
F. D. Brien, S. W. P. Cloete, N. M. Fogarty, J. C. Greeff, M. L. Hebart, S. Hiendleder, J. E. Hocking Edwards, J. M. Kelly, K. L. Kind, D. O. Kleemann, K. L. Plush and D. R. Miller
Abstract: Poor lamb survival pre-weaning is a major source of reproductive inefficiency in Australian sheep flocks. While nutrition and management options have been extensively researched and promoted to improve lamb survival, the present review focuses on the prospects for obtaining genetic gain and helps identify selection strategies for boosting such gains to improve overall reproductive efficiency in the Australian sheep industry. Estimated heritability for lamb survival using linear model analysis is low, although use of threshold models suggests that heritability could be higher, which, if true, could help explain the substantial genetic gains obtained in long-term selection experiments. Epigenetic mechanisms may hinder selection and quantitative trait-loci identification through confounding and/or masking genetic variances and co-variances. With sufficient information, these effects could be considered in genetic evaluations by identifying those components that are amenable to selection. Regarding indirect selection, finding effective criteria for improving lamb survival has proved elusive. Most measures of maternal behaviour, temperament and lambing difficulty researched are poorly correlated genetically with lamb survival. Of lamb behaviours and thermo-genic indicators studied, latency to bleat following handling by humans is moderately genetically correlated with lamb survival, as is neonatal rectal temperature. Industry application remains to be adequately explored for the more promising of these measures. Finally, in lieu of direct selection for lamb survival, there is merit in selecting for multiple-rearing ability or its equivalent, possibly with additional selection criteria for lamb survival and reproductive efficiency.
Rights: Journal compilation © CSIRO 2014
RMID: 0030009659
DOI: 10.1071/AN13140
Appears in Collections:Animal and Veterinary Sciences publications

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