Estimation of the Genetic Parameters for Semen Traits in Spanish Dairy Sheep
Departamento de Producción Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad de León, Campus de Vegazana s/n, 24071 León, Spain
Instituto Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario y Forestal de Castilla La Mancha (IRIAF), CERSYRA de Valdepeñas, 13300 Ciudad Real, Spain
NEIKER, Instituto Vasco de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario, Campus Agroalimentario de Arkaute, Apdo 46, 01080 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
INIA. Departamento de Mejora genética Animal. Ctra. de la Coruña km 7.5, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 October 2019 / Revised: 7 December 2019 / Accepted: 12 December 2019 / Published: 13 December 2019
The limited studies addressing the estimation of genetic parameters for ram semen traits in different breeds show a wide variation, highlighting the importance of studying these traits for individual breeds. Therefore, this work aimed to estimate genetic parameters for traits related to semen production and quality in five dairy sheep breeds. For that, ejaculates of rams from Assaf, Churra, Latxa Cara Negra, Latxa Cara Rubia, and Manchega breeds were analyzed. Estimates of the genetic covariance structure were obtained with multiple-trait animal models using the average information REML (restricted maximum likelihood) method in the BLUPF90 family of programs. Repeatability estimates for all the traits were also calculated. Heritability estimates were of low to moderate magnitude, although the estimates differed among the breeds. The estimated genetic correlations among the three semen traits showed adequate precision only in the Manchega (MAN) breed. The heritability estimates reported here suggest that improvement of these traits may be achieved by genetic selection.