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Economic weights of fertility, prolificacy, milk yield and longevity in dairy sheep

  • A. Legarra (a1), M. Ramón (a2), E. Ugarte (a1) and M. D. Pérez-Guzmán (a2)

Abstract

Economic weights have been estimated in two breeds (Latxa and Manchega) using economic and technical data collected in 41 Latxa and 12 Manchega dairy sheep flocks. The traits considered were fertility (lambing per year), prolificacy (number of lambs), milk yield (litres) and longevity (as productive life, in years). A linear function was used, relating these traits to the different costs in the flock. The variable costs involved in the profit function were feed and labour. From this function, economic weights were obtained. Labour is considered in the Latxa breed to be a constraint. Moreover, farm profits are unusually high, which probably means that some costs were not included according to the economic theory. For that reason, a rescaling procedure was applied constraining total labour time at the farm. Genetic gains were estimated with the resulting economic weights to test if they give any practical difference. Milk yield only as selection criterion was also considered. The medians of the estimated economic weights for fertility, prolificacy, milk yield and longevity were 138.60 € per lambing, 40.00 € per lamb, 1.18 € per l, 1.66 € per year, and 137.66 € per lambing, 34.17 € per lamb, 0.73 € per l, 2.16 € per year under the linear approach in the Latxa and Manchega breeds respectively. Most differences between breeds can be related to differences in production systems. As for the genetic gains, they were very similar for all economic weights, except when only milk yield was considered, where a correlated decrease in fertility led to a strong decrease in profit. It is concluded that the estimates are robust for practical purposes and that breeding programmes should consider inclusion of fertility. More research is needed to include other traits such as somatic cell score, milk composition and udder traits.

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