Heritability estimates of death from enteritis or pneumonia, the two major causes of pre-weaning death at the U.S. Rabbit Experiment Station, Fontana, California, have been estimated. The data consisted of 15,329 observations made at the station from 1946 to 1961.
From birth to 14 days of age the death rate over the years increased from 0·2 to 6·1% During the period from 15 days to 56 days of age (weaning) the enteritis death rate was quite constant over the years (7·5%) while that of enteritis or pneumonia increased from 8·3% to 13·2%.
Heritability of death from enteritis or pneumonia for the period 15 to 56 days of age was estimated on the basis of paternal half sib analysis to be 0·12 ± 0·02. Based on an analysis of differences between dams within sires the corresponding estimate was 0·58 ± 0·05. The difference between the two estimates was attributed to maternal and non-additive genetic effects.
The genetic correlation between the two diseases under discussion was estimated to be 0·66 and 0middot;57 on the basis of differences among sires and among dams within sires respectively.
Breeding plans are suggested on the basis of the parameters estimated.