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Genetic analysis of robustness in meat sheep through body weight and body condition score changes over time.

TitleGenetic analysis of robustness in meat sheep through body weight and body condition score changes over time.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsMacé, T, González-García, E, Pradel, J, Parisot, S, Carrière, F, Douls, S, Foulquié, D, Hazard, D
JournalJ Anim Sci
Date Published2018 Nov 21

Animal robustness may be defined as a complex trait characterizing the ability of an individual to be adapted, productive and healthy under contrasted and fluctuating environmental situations. Such a trait is now considered an essential criterion in order to meet the more ambitious goals of farming sustainability. In ruminants, one of the key mechanisms via which robustness is expressed is the capacity to mobilize or restore body reserves (BR) to cope with the challenges of negative energy balances. The objectives of this work were as follows: 1) to estimate the genetic parameters related to BR dynamics in ewes over successive production cycles and 2) to investigate BR management relationships between different physiological stages. For this, historical individual BW and BCS data from 2,920 phenotyped ewes were used for genetic analysis. The changes in BW (∆BW) and BCS (∆BCS) over time were analyzed. Eight physiological stages were considered to investigate these changes over time: mating, early pregnancy, mid-pregnancy, lambing, early suckling, mid-suckling, weaning, and postweaning. The estimated heritability were low for both ∆BW (h2 = 0.13 to 0.18) and ∆BCS (h2 = 0.04 to 0.16). Moderate to high positive genetic correlations (from 0.48 to 0.91) were obtained between BR mobilization phases and between BR accretion phases. Similarly, moderate to high negative genetic correlations (from -0.36 to -0.75) were estimated between the BR mobilization and accretion periods, suggesting that mechanisms driving BR mobilization and accretion processes were genetically correlated. This is the first study in ruminants that demonstrate that the extent and temporal changes in profiles of BR mobilization and accretion are heritable and genetically linked, indicating that such traits could be considered in genetic programs aimed at improving robustness. Nevertheless, further research is needed for a more comprehensive understanding of BR dynamics, notably by including other physiological parameters (i.e., metabolites and hormones) and additional information on the productive and reproductive life of the ewe.

Alternate JournalJ. Anim. Sci.
PubMed ID30085118
PubMed Central IDPMC6247844