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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Dubois, Idaho » Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #403534

Research Project: Agroecological Approach to Enhance U.S. Sheep Industry Viability and Rangeland Ecosystem Conservation

Location: Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research

Title: Targhee sire benchmarking at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station

item Wilson, Carrie - Welsh
item Taylor, Joshua - Bret
item Murphy, Thomas - Tom
item STEWART, WHITNEY - University Of Wyoming
item NOTTER, DAVID - Virginia Tech
item LEWIS, RONALD - University Of Nebraska

Submitted to: American Society of Animal Science Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/17/2023
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Targhee breed was developed at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES) starting in 1926, and has become an established range breed used commercially in the Western U.S. Our objective was to benchmark the performance of industry-based (external) Targhee sires with those currently in use at USSES. Nineteen Targhee sires from 12 flocks were incorporated into the USSES breeding flock starting with the 2015 breeding season. Data were measured through 2022 for 3 production and 12 wool traits with a range of 180 to 1,967 records per trait. Externally sourced sires averaged 38.3 progeny (7 to 78), with 0 to 4 ram lambs (15 total) and 0 to 15 (106 total) ewe lambs retained per sire in the flock. They were ancestors of 984 grand-progeny. USSES sires averaged 25.0 progeny (5 to 52), with 0 to 1 ram lambs (2 total) and 0 to 8 (53 total) ewe lambs retained per sire. They had 275 grand-progeny. Pedigree data was used to compute the marginal genetic contributions for each sire to the current flock using ENDOG. External sires had a cumulative contribution of 31.9 percent (0.4 to 3.9) while the USSES sires contributed 1.4 percent (0.0 to 0.9). Using R, fixed effects examined were age of dam, lamb sex, lamb birth year, grazing group, and type of birth/rearing. Significant variation explained in a trait by main effects (P < 0.005), and their two-way interactions (P < 0.001), were included in the final linear mixed models fitted. Externally sourced and USSES sires were assigned to separate genetic groups to account for the anticipated differences in genetic base. Using WOMBAT, a univariate animal model was fitted to estimate variance components and predict estimated breeding values for each lamb trait. Selection of random effects was based on log-likelihood ratio tests. Final models fitted and estimated heritabilities are summarized in Table 1. Total litter weight at 120 days per ewe lambing (TW120) was evaluated using a repeated measures model with direct additive and permanent environmental random effects of the ewe. Genetic group solutions were not significantly different (P > 0.05) for any traits evaluated. Since both sire groups originated from the same population, this suggests significant selection divergence had not occurred between industry and USSES flocks. Incorporation of external Targhee sires increased the genetic diversity of the USSES flock. It also strengthened industry ties to the USSES flock, which will benefit the commercial genetic evaluation conducted by the National Sheep Improvement Program.