Skip to main content Accessibility help

Non-genetic sources of variation of milk production and reproduction and interactions between both classes of traits in Sicilo-Sarde dairy sheep

  • A. Meraï (a1), N. Gengler (a2), H. Hammami (a2) (a3), M. Rekik (a4) and C. Bastin (a2)...


This work aimed to study the sources of variation in productive and reproductive traits of the dairy Sicilo-Sarde ewes and to further investigate the interaction between both classes of traits. After edits, a database containing 5935 lactation records collected during 6 successive years in eight dairy flocks in the North of Tunisia was used. Total milked milk (TMM) in the milking-only period was retained as productive trait. The interval from the start of the mating period to the subsequent lambing (IML) and the lambing status (LS) were designed as reproductive traits. Sicilo-Sarde ewes had an average TMM of 60.93 l (±44.12) during 132.8 days (±46.6) after a suckling period of 100.4 days (±24.9). Average IML was 165.7 days. In a first step, the major factors influencing milk production and reproductive traits were determined. The significant sources of variation identified for TMM were: flock, month of lambing, year of lambing, parity, suckling length, litter size and milking-only length. Flock×month of the start of the mating period, parity, year of mating and litter size were identified as significant factors of variation for IML, while flock×month of the start of the mating period, parity and year of mating were identified as significant sources of variation for LS. In a second step, variance components were estimated using a three traits threshold mixed model, which combined LS as categorical trait and TMM and IML as continuous traits. Repeatability estimates were 0.21 (±0.03) for TMM, 0.09 (±0.02) for IML, and 0.10 (±0.05) for LS. Moreover, TMM and IML were found to be favorably associated for the flock× year of lambing effect (−0.45±0.18) but unfavorably associated for the animal effect (0.20±0.09).


Corresponding author


Hide All
Anel, L, Alvarez, M, Martinez-Pastor, F, Garcia-Macias, V and Anel, E 2006. Improvement strategies in ovine artificial insemination. Reproduction in Domestic Animals 41, 3042.
Anel, L, Kaabi, M, Abroug, B, Alvarez, M, Anel, E, Boixo, JC, de la Fuente, LF and de Paz, P 2005. Factors influencing the success of vaginal and laparoscopic artificial insemination in churra ewes: a field assay. Theriogenology 63, 12351247.
Atti, N 2011. Système optimum de conduite des ovins: cas des conditions alimentaires améliorées du sud de la Méditerranée. Options Méditerranéennes 97, 5160.
Atti, N, Thériez, M and Abdennebi, L 2001. Relationship between body condition at mating and reproductive performance in the fat-tailed Barbarine breed. Animal Research 50, 135144.
Barillet, F 2007. Genetic improvement for dairy production in sheep and goats. Small Ruminant Research 70, 6075.
Carta, A, Casu, S and Salaris, S 2009. Invited review: current state of genetic improvement in dairy sheep. Journal of Dairy Science 92, 58145833.
David, I, Robert-Granié, E, Manfredi, G, Lagriffoul, E and Bodin, L 2008. Environmental and genetic variation factors of artificial insemination success in French Dairy Sheep. Animal 2, 979986.
Djemali, M and Kayouli, C 2000. L’élevage laitier en Tunisie. Proceedings of the joint EAAP-CIHEAM-FAO symposium on prospects for a sustainable dairy sector in the Mediterranean, 26 to 28 October 2000, Hammamet, Tunisia, pp. 96–105.
Djemali, M, Ben M’Sallem, I and Bourawi, R 1995. Effet du mois, mode et âge d’agnelage sur la production laitière des brebis Sicilo-Sarde en Tunisie. Cahiers Options Méditerranéennes 6, 111117.
Djemali, M, Bedhiaf-Romdhani, S, Iniguez, L and Inounou, I 2009. Saving threatened native breeds by autonomous production, involvement of farmers’ organization, research and policy makers: the case of the Sicilo-Sarde breed in Tunisia, North Africa. Livestock Science 120, 213217.
Eyal, E, Lawi, A, Folman, Y and Morag, M 1978. Lamb and milk production of a flock of dairy ewes under an accelerated breeding regime. The Journal of Agricultural Science 91, 6979.
Grimmard, B, Freret, S, Chevallier, A, Pinto, A and Ponsart, C 2006. Genetic and environmental factors influencing first service conception rate and late embryonic/foetal mortality in low fertility dairy herds. Animal Reproduction Science 91, 3144.
Kassem, R, Owen, JB and Fedel, I 1989. Rebreeding activity in milking Awassi under semi-arid conditions. Animal Production 49, 8993.
Khaldi, G and Farid, M 1981. Encyclopédie des productions animales dans le monde arabe. Cas de la République Tunisienne. Arab Center for the Studies of Arid zones and Dry lands (ACSAD), Damascus, Syria.
Lassoued, N, Rekik, M, Khenissi, S and Merai, A 2014. Seasonality of oestrus, ovulation and ovulation rate of Sicilo-Sarde sheep. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, published online 12 September 2013, doi:10.1111/jpn.12123.
Macciotta, NPP, Cappio-Borlino, A and Pulina, G 1999. Analysis of environmental effects on test day milk yields on Sarda dairy ewes. Journal of Dairy Science 82, 22122217.
Misztal, I, Tsuruta, S, Strabel, T, Auvray, B, Druet, T and Lee, DH 2002. BLUPF90 and related programs (BGF90). Proceedings of 7th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, 19 to 23 August, Montpellier, France, pp. 743–744.
Moujahed, N, Jounaidi, A, Kayouli, C and Damergi, C 2009. Effects of management system on performances of the Sicilo-Sarde ewes farmed in Northern Tunisia. Options Méditerranéennes 85, 393397.
Nettleton, PF, Gilray, JA, Russo, P and Dlissi, E 1998. Border disease of sheep and goats. Veterinary Research 29, 327340.
Office de l’Elevage et des Pâturages (OEP) 2012. Données sectorielles 2011-effectifs du cheptel. Retrieved December 10, 2012, from http/
Osinowo, OA, Abubakar, BY and Trimnel, AR 1993. Genetic and phenotypic relationships between gestation length, litter size and litter birth weight in Yankasa sheep. Animal Reproduction Science 34, 111118.
Pollot, GE and Gootwine, E 2000. Factors affecting milk production in improved Awassi dairy ewes. Animal Science 71 (3), 607616.
Pollot, GE and Gootwine, E 2004. Reproductive performance and milk production of Assaf sheep in an intensive management system. Journal of Dairy Science 87, 36903703.
Rekik, M, Aloulou, R and Ben Hammouda, M 2005. Small Ruminant Breeds of Tunisia. In Characterization of small ruminant breeds in West Asia and North Africa, 2: North Africa (ed. L Iňiguez), pp. 91140. International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aleppo, Syria.
Rouissi, H, Rekik, B, Selmi, H, Hammami, M and Ben Gara, A 2008. Performances laitières de la brebis Sicilo-Sarde Tunisienne complémentée par un concentré local. Livestock Research for Rural Development 20, 102108.
Rouissi, H, Ben Souissi, N, Dridi, S, Chaieb, K, Tlili, S and Ridene, J 2001. Performances zootechniques de la race ovine Sicilo-Sarde. Options Méditerranéennes 46, 231236.
Saadoun, L, Romdhani, SB, Darej, C and Djemali, M 2004. The Sicilo Sarde dairy sheep in Tunisia: threats and strength. Proceedings of the 34th Biennial Session of the International Committee for Animal Recording, 28 May to 3 June 2004, Sousse, Tunisia, pp. 109–114.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed