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Resistance to nematode parasites in Merino sheep: Sources of genetic variation

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Eady, S. J., Woolaston, R.R., Mortimer, S.I., Lewer, R.P., Raadsma, H.W., Swan, A.A. and Ponzoni, R.W. (1996) Resistance to nematode parasites in Merino sheep: Sources of genetic variation. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 47 (6). pp. 895-915. ISSN 1836-0947


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/AR9960895


Merino sheep representing a range of bloodlines in resource flocks located across Australia were tested for resistance to gastro-intestinal nematodes. These flocks included the JB Pye Flock (Camden, NSW), Katanning Base Flock (Katanning, WA), Turretfield Merino Resource Flock (Rosedale, SA), CSIRO Finewool Flock (Armidale, NSW), and the Trangie D Flock (Trangie, NSW). Faecal egg count (FEC) was used to measure relative resistance of sheep to nematode parasites after either natural or artificial infection with Haemonchus contortus and Trichostrongylus colubriformis. Differences in FEC 0' 33 between strains and between and within bloodlines were examined and the heritability of this trait was estimated. A low proportion of the total variation in parasite resistance could be attributed to strain and bloodline effects (1 and 3.5%, respectively) after either natural or artificial infection. The major source of genetic variation was found within bloodlines (22.2% of total variation), with individual sires showing a wide range in parasite resistance. Paternal half-sib heritability estimates for FEC 0' 33 were significant (P < 0.05) in 9 of the 11 analyses and ranged from 0.07 to 0.42, with a weighted average of 0.22. The influence of the environmental effects of sex, age of dam, birth-rearing rank, and day of birth were also investigated, and were found to be only occasionally significant, accounting for a small proportion (0.3-2.2%) of variation. Management group effects both prior to and at the time of measurement were often significant, and accounted for 2.2-19.4% of variation in FEC. Correction of FEC for effects other than management group would seem to add little to precision of selection. These results have demonstrated that significant genetic variation for nematode parasite resistance exists within a wide range of Merino bloodlines, and within-flock selection of resistant sires appears to be an effective method of improving this trait in Merino sheep.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:heritability, faecal egg count, parasite resistance, variance components
Subjects:Science > Biology > Genetics
Veterinary medicine > Veterinary parasitology
Veterinary medicine > Diseases of special classes of animals > Sheep and goats
Live Archive:05 Apr 2024 00:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2024 00:17

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