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Journal of Applied Genetics 48(3), 2007, pp. 253-260

Genetic variability of body weight in two goose strains under long-term selection

Tomasz Szwaczkowski, Stanislaw Wezyk, Elzbieta Stanislawska-Barczak, Jakub Badowski, Halina Bielinska, Anna Wolc

Abstract: Body weight is one of the most important traits in any genetic improvement program in geese for at least 2 reasons. First, measurements of the trait are very easy. Second, body weight is correlated with a number of other meat performance traits. However, the genetic background of body weight shows considerable complexity. Three genetic models (with direct, maternal genetic and permanent maternal environmental effects) were employed in this study. Records of 3076 individuals of maternal strain W11 and 2656 individuals of paternal strain W33 over 6 consecutive generations, kept in the pedigree farm of Kołuda Wielka, were analysed. Body weight (in kilograms) was measured in weeks 8 (BW8) and 11 (BW11). The inbreeding levels in both populations were relatively low (0.14% and 0.02% for W11 and W33, respectively), therefore these effects were not included in the linear models to estimate genetic parameters. Three fixed effects (hatch period, sex and year) were included in each linear model. Two criteria (AIC, BIC) were used to check the goodness of fit of the models. The computations were performed by WOMBAT software. In general, the genetic parameter estimates varied across the traits, models and strains studied. Direct additive heritability estimates ranged from 0.0001 (for BW11 of W33) to 0.55 (for BW11 of W33). Maternal and total heritabilities were also variable. Estimates of ratios of direct-maternal effect covariance in phenotypic variance were both positive and negative, but they were negligible, whereas ratios of the permanent environmental maternal variance to phenotypic variance were close to zero. Both of the applied criteria of model adequacy indicate that the model with maternal genetic and environmental effects should be considered as optimal. Genetic trends were close to zero. It seems that they were influenced by long-term selection. Similar tendencies have been observed for phenotypic trends, as well.

Key words: body weight, goose, maternal effects, genetic trends.

Correspondence: T. Szwaczkowski, Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding, August Cieszkowski Agricultural University of Poznan, Wolynska 33, 60-637 Poznan, Poland; e-mail:

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