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HERITABILITY ESTIMATES OF SOME LINEAR TYPE TRAITS IN NILI RAVI BUFFALOES.

Byline: R. H. Mirza K. Javed M. Abdullah T. N. Pasha and M. Akhtar

ABSTRACT

Most of the body conformation traits are heritable to varying levels and have been reported in almost all of the important dairy cattle breeds. Traits showing medium to high heritability estimates can be improved through selection and breeding depending upon the selection intensity and heritability of a particular trait. The present study was planned for the characterization of linear type traits in Nili Ravi buffaloes of Pakistan. One of the main objectives of the study was the genetic evaluation of Nili Ravi buffaloes for body conformation and linear type traits. A total of 1180 records on 437 Nili Ravi milking buffaloes were generated over a scoring period of two years. Pedigree records of buffaloes were traced back up to 5 available generations and these buffaloes were the progeny of 88 sires and 303 dams. Number of base animals were 119 with no pedigree records.

Univariate heritability estimates of linear type traits using ASREML computer program (Gilmour 2009) showed that most of the estimates were low to medium in range. Heritability estimates for stature chest width body depth angularity rump angle and rump width were found as 0.360.092 0.100.081 0.320.081 0.060.071 0.150.071 and 0.380.092 respectively. Heritability estimates for most of the linear type traits were found in agreement with the reports available in the literature for different dairy cattle breeds. The results might be considered for inclusion of some of the linear type traits in selection programs. However consideration of correlation of any trait with milk yield is a prerequisite because in case of positive correlation with milk yield improvement in both milk yield and a linear trait will be simultaneous but in case of negative correlation the case may be reverse.

Among the body conformation traits stature body depth rump angle and rump width are relatively more important and should be given consideration. Further studies and research with larger data set is needed to explore linear type traits and to validate the findings of the current study.

Key words: Heritability linear type traits Nili Ravi Buffalo Pakistan INTRODUCTION

Body conformation and linear type traits are very important because they are correlated with performance of dairy animals. Performance and conformation recording in most of the countries is a regular feature for all important dairy breeds where herds are evaluated routinely on the basis of these records and future breeding is planned accordingly. Most of the body and udder conformation traits are heritable to varying levels and have been reported by many workers in almost all of the important dairy cattle breeds. Traits showing medium to high heritability estimates can be improved through selection and breeding depending upon the selection intensity and heritability of a particular trait. Some of the most important and heritable traits as reported by many workers in different dairy cattle breeds included studies on stature by Viji (1990) in Tharparkar Gengler et al. (1999) in Milking Shorthorn Mrode et al. (2000) in Ayrshire Wiggans et al. (2004) in Jersey Dahiya (2005) in Hariana Wiggans et al. (2006) in Guernsey Haas et al. (2007) in Brown Swiss Lassen and Mark (2008) in Danish Holstein Pozveh et al. (2009) in Holstein Khan (2009) in Sahiwal Pantelic et al. (2010) in black and white and Zavadilova and Stipkova (2012) in Czech Holstein breed.

A lot of work on other important linear type traits including chest width body depth rump angle and rump width has been reported in the literature. The present study was planned for the characterization of linear type traits in Nili Ravi buffaloes of Pakistan. One of the main objectives of the study was the genetic evaluation of Nili Ravi buffaloes for body conformation and linear type traits. This included the estimation of heritabilities of various linear type traits and evaluation of possibilities to use linear type traits in future selection and breeding decisions. This might be helpful for the improvement of Nili Ravi buffalo breed in terms of physical features to bring phenotypic uniformity as well as per head productivity in coming generations. MATERIALS AND METHODS

Nili Ravi buffalo herds maintained at 5 institutional herds in Punjab and some private breeders were utilized in this study. General management and feeding practices at these stations were almost similar during the course of study. Routine practice was to allow animals to graze on available fodders for about 4-6 hours daily depending on season. The lactating buffaloes were fed concentrate at the rate of 1 kg for every 3 kg of milk produced. Buffaloes were milked twice daily with an approximate interval of 12 hours at all the farms.

Data collection: Conformation recording was started during July 2010 and continued till June 2012. Information including tag number of the buffalo sire and dam number and pedigree records of sire and dam date of birth date of calving lactation number and other such recorded data were collected in addition to scoring for the standard type traits.

Linear scoring of buffaloes and body measurements were recorded at day time between 7.00 AM to 3.00 PM at all the farms. On an average 4-5 buffaloes could be scored daily. Milk yield was recorded in kilograms using weighing scale. The guidelines for conformational recording of dairy cattle provided by the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR 2007) were followed in this study. A total of 437 milking buffaloes were scored for linear type traits as follows:

1. First scoring 15 to 90 days of calving

2. Second scoring 90 to 180 days of calving

3. Third scoring 180 to 270 days of calving Those buffaloes which became dry at the term of third scoring were still scored once for the traits under study.

Evaluation Model: Data were initially analysed using the mixed model procedure of the Statistical Analysis Systems (SAS 2011) for the evaluation of fixed effects of age of the buffalo at scoring stage of lactation parity herd and season of scoring on linear type traits. Fixed effects observed to be significant in the initial analysis were included in the model for estimation of variance components from which genetic parameters were estimated.

Genetic parameters were estimated fitting an Individual Animal Model. Heritability estimates for all linear and body conformation traits were computed using a statistical model as follows:Equation

Estimates of variance components and heritability for the various linear type traits were obtained by Restricted Maximum Likelihood (REML) procedure outlined by Patterson and Thompson (1971) fitting an animal model. The model accounted for fixed effects including age of the buffalo at scoring stage of lactation parity herd and season of scoring. The convergence criterion (variance of function values -2 log likelihood) for variance components estimation was 1 x 10-8. The model in matrix notation was as follow:

y = Xb + Za + Wpe + e

Where

y = vector of observations on linear type traits

= vector of fixed effects (age of the buffalo at scoring stage of lactation parity herd and season of scoring)

a = vector of random animal effects

pe = vector of random permanent environment effects associated to the animal

e = vector of random residual effect

X Z W are incidence matrices relating records to fixed animal and permanent environment effects respectively. Note that

Z = [0 W]

Where 0 are extra columns added for the ancestors without records. Vector a contains additive random animal effects while possible non-additive genetic effects are included in the pe vector. It was further assumed that permanent environment effects and residual effects were independently distributed with mean zero and variance s pe and s e respectively.

So the variances are therefore defined as:Equation

The mixed model equations (MME) for the best linear unbiased estimator (BLUE) of estimable functions of b and for the best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) of a and pe pertaining to this model (Mrode 1996) are then:

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Heritability estimates of linear type traits: A total of 1180 records on 437 Nili Ravi milking buffaloes were generated over a period of two years. Separate data and pedigree files for each trait were prepared in excel sheets and analysis was performed accordingly in ASREML computer program (Gilmour 2009). Pedigree records of buffaloes were traced back up to 5 available generations and these buffaloes were the progeny of 88 sires and 303 dams. Out of 88 sires male parent of 27 sires and female parent of 37 sires was also known. In other words sires of 61 sires and dams of 51 sires were not known. Similarly out of 303 dams sires of 62 dams and dams of 219 dams were known in the pedigree file. Number of base animals were 119 with no pedigree records. Univariate heritability estimates of linear type traits along with standard errors in Nili Ravi buffaloes are presented in table 1. Most of the estimates observed were low to medium in range.

In case of linear traits related to body conformation heritability estimates for stature chest width body depth angularity rump angle and rump width ranged from 0.060.071 for angularity to 0.360.092 for stature.

Stature: A high heritability estimate of stature as 0.360.092 has been obtained in the current study. No report for comparison on buffalo breeds is available in the literature. Even then comparison can be made with dairy cattle breeds. Most of the workers have reported heritability estimates for stature in the range of 0.30 to 0.50 including Weigel et al. (1997) Gengler et al. (1999) Royal et al. (2002) Dechow et al. (2003) Wiggans et al. (2004) Tsuruta et al. (2005) Zavadilova et al. (2009) Zink et al. (2011) and Zavadilova and Stipkova (2012) in different dairy cattle breeds. Norman et al. (1983) in Milking Shorthorn Haas et al. (2007) in Red and White cows and Khan (2009) in Sahiwal cows have reported very high estimates of heritability for stature as 0.75 740.03 and 0.810.020 respectively. These reports are not in agreement with the findings of the current study. A high estimate for this trait suggested that improvement in stature can be made through selection.

However association of this trait with other traits and with milk yield must be considered while selecting for this trait.

Chest width: The findings of current study indicated a low heritability estimate of 0.100.081 for chest width. Almost similar results were reported by Dutoit et al. (2012) in Jersey breed as 0.080.01. Most of the workers have reported heritability estimate of chest width in the medium range of 0.15 to 0.30. Higher estimates were reported by Mrode et al. (2000) as 0.27 in Ayrshire breed Kadarmideen and Wegmann (2003) as 0.270.03 in Swiss Holstein and Van dorp et al. (2004) as 0.26 in Holstein cows. High heritability estimate for this trait has been reported by some workers like Pryce et al. (2000) as 0.390.02 in Holstein Viji (1990) as 0.490.22 in Tharparkar and Khan (2009) as 0.630.03 in Sahiwal cows. Little improvement in this trait through selective breeding is possible and environmental factors seem to be more important in the current study for this trait.

Table 1. Heritability estimates of linear type traits in Nili Ravi buffaloes

Trait###N###h2 estimates

Stature###1180###0.360.092

Chest width###1180###0.100.081

Body depth###1091###0.320.081

Angularity###1180###0.060.071

Rump angle###1177###0.150.071

Rump width###614###0.380.092

Body depth: The results of present study indicated a high heritability estimate of 0.320.081 for body depth. Similar results were reported by Wiggans et al. (2004) in Guernsey cows as 0.32 and Haas et al. (2007) in Brown Swiss as 0.340.02. Most of the workers have reported heritability estimate for this trait in the medium to high range of 0.20 to 0.40 including Gengler et al. (1999) Mrode et al. (2000) DeGroot et al. (2002) Vukasinovic et al. (2002) Biscarini et al. (2003) Wiggans et al. (2004) Van dorp et al. (2004) Wall et al. (2005) Wiggans et al. (2006) Lassen and Mark (2008) Daliri et al. (2008) Pozveh et al. (2009) Zavadilova et al. (2009) and Zavadilova and Stipkova (2012). In contrast to these findings very high estimates were reported by Haas et al. (2007) in Red and White cows as 0.590.03 and maximum value for this trait was reported by Khan (2009) as 0.670.03 in Sahiwal cows. This trait can be improved through selective breeding in Nili Ravi buffaloes.

Angularity: In the present study heritability estimate for angularity was found as 0.060.071. Slightly higher estimate was reported by Kawahara et al. (1994) in Holstein cows as 0.14 Pozveh et al. (2009) as 0.230.03 in Holstein and Zavadilova and Stipkova (2012) as 0.22 in Czech Holstein cows. Most of the reports indicated heritability estimate for this trait in the range of 0.15 to 0.35. Some of the reports indicated a very high heritability estimate of angularity as 0.80 by Mrode and Swanson (1994) as 0.51 by Mrode et al. (2000) and as 0.540.04 by Khan (2009). These reports do not match with the findings of current study. Low heritability estimate for angularity might be due to differences among species breed data size and method of estimation or differences in use of models.

Rump angle: Heritability estimate for rump angle was found as 0.150.071 in the current study. Almost similar results were reported by Norman et al. (1983) as 0.13 in Ayrshire cows and Thompson et al. (1983) as 0.170.03 in Holstein cows. Most of the reports indicated a medium to high range of 0.25 to 0.35 for heritability estimate of this trait. High heritability estimates for this trait were documented by Wiggans et al. (2004) as 0.41 and Daliri et al. (2008) as 0.410.01 in Guernsey and Holstein breed respectively. The findings of current study are low and this may be due to relatively smaller data set and incomplete pedigree records.

Rump width: An estimate of 0.380.092 for heritability of rump width was observed in the current study. Nearly same results were reported by Dahiya (2005a) as 0.350.28 in Sahiwal breed. Most of the workers have reported heritability estimate for this trait in range of low to medium value of 0.10 to 0.25 including Gengler et al. (1999) Uribe et al. (2000) Boelling et al. (2001) Royal et al. (2002) Wiggans et al. (2004) Tsuruta et al. (2005) Boelling et al. (2007) Daliri et al. (2008) Laursen et al. (2009) Linde et al. (2010) Ptak et al. (2011) and Zavadilova and Stipkova (2012). A very high heritability estimate was reported by Khan (2009) as 0.720.02 and Dahiya (2005) as 0.540.23 in Sahiwal and Hariana cows respectively. High heritability estimate indicates a chance of improvement in this trait through selection and breeding.

Conclusions: Heritability estimates for most of the linear type traits were found as low to medium in range in the current study. The reasons of relatively low estimates might be due to species differences and relatively small data set as well as incomplete pedigree records. Even then the results might be considered for inclusion of some of the linear type traits in selection programs. However consideration of correlation of any trait with milk yield is a prerequisite because in case of positive correlation with milk yield improvement in both milk yield and a linear trait will be simultaneously but in case of negative correlation the case may be reverse. Among the body conformation traits stature body depth rump angle and rump width are relatively more important and should be given consideration. Keeping in view that this is a preliminary study on genetic aspects of linear type traits in Nili Ravi buffaloes further studies and research with larger data set is needed to explore linear type traits and to validate the findings of the current study.

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