A selection experiment with Scottish Blackface sheep was used to compare predicted and realized responses to selection. Three closed lines, of approximate annual size of 270 ewes and 10 rams, were maintained between 1956 and 1974, in which selection was at random, or for high and low values of an index of cannon-bone length at 8 weeks of age adjusted for body weight at the same age. An unselected base flock (1954-55) and the randomly selected line were used to estimate base population parameters, while the selected lines were used to estimate realized responses to selection.
Heritabilities and genetic correlations were obtained in the unselected lines from a variety of collateral and ancestral relationships. The important components of phenotypic variance were estimated and likely responses to selection predicted for the index and its two component traits. Realized responses to selection were estimated from the regression of response on selection differential. The expected variance-covariance matrix of observed responses was included in generalized least-squares estimates of these regressions.
The realized heritability of the index under selection, estimated from the divergence of selected lines, was 0·52 (s.e. 0·02). After allowing for the expected reduction in heritability arising from linkage disequilibrium, this was very similar to the base population estimate of 0·56 (s.e. 0·04). The responses in the component traits of the index were also very close to those expected from base population parameters