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Effect of selection for fleece weight on live weight, reproductive performance and wool characteristics in mixed age Romney

T. Wuliji1, K. G. Dodds2, R. N. Andrews2, P. R. Turner2, and R. Wheeler2

1E (Kika) de la Garza Institute For Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK 73050, and 2AgResearch, Private Bag 50034, Mosgiel, New Zealand

Data were collected from 3,525 mixed age Romney ewes over 11 years of production, either fleece weight-selected (HF) or control (RC). Data were statistically analyzed by least-squares analysis of variance. The model included year, flock, and age of ewe, with older ewe classes (6 and above) combined. The HF ewes were (P < 0.001) heavier than RC for autumn, winter, and spring weights. Greasy fleece weight and yield, clean fleece weight, and fiber diameter were 4.61 kg (SE 0.09), 78.6% (SE .3), 3.59 kg (SE 0.04), and 40.3 m (SE 0.2) for HF compared with 3.82 kg (SE 0.10), 78.3% (SE 0.4), 3.03 kg (SE 0.06), and 39.3 m (SE 0.3) for RC ewes. These differences were highly significant (P < 0.001) except for yield. There was no difference in wool brightness (Y: 61.4 vs 61.6; SED 0.2), but yellowness (Y-Z: 5.4 vs 4.5; SED 0.2) was greater (P < 0.001) for HF ewes. Significant (P < 0.01) differences existed between flocks in ovulation rate (1.80 vs 1.73; SED 0.03), number of lambs born per ewe lambed (1.63 vs 1.56; SED 0.02), number of multiple births per ewe lambed (60% vs 54%; SED 2%), and number of lambs weaned per lamb born (1.15 vs 1.12; SED 0.01). These results indicate that a selection for fleece weight as a single trait enhances fleece weight, live weight, ovulation rate, fiber diameter, and fleece yellowness.


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