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J. Bio. Env. Sci. 2016 Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences (JBES) ISSN: 2220-6663 (Print) 2222-3045 (Online) Vol. 8, No. 6, p. 67-73, 2016 RESEARCH PAPER


Analysis of the non-genetic factors affecting the growth traits of Balouchi sheep Reza Tohidi1*, Arash Javanmard2 , Vahid Shamsabadi1 1

Dept. of Animal Science, University of Torbat-e-Jam, Iran


Dept. of Animal Science, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran Article published on June 11, 2016

Key words: Balouchi sheep, Growth traits, Environmental factors.

Abstract A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of non-genetic factors on the growth behavior of Balouchi sheep breed. The data of growth traits, birth weight (BW), weaning weight (WW), weight at 6, 9 and 12 months of age (W6, W9 and W12, respectively) were taken from 1400 lambs belonging to historical data from Abbasabad Sheep Breeding Station located at the North-east of Iran during a period of five years. Statistical analyses were performed using a general linear model including non-genetic factors: lamb sex, birth year and litter size as main effects, the lambâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s age when weighed as covariable, and the interactions between these factors. Results showed that all traits were significantly (P < 0.001) affected by all factors. However, the interaction between sex and litter size was not significant for BW, WW and W6. Environmental factors have very important roles in the development and growth of Balouchi sheep at different ages. Therefore, a correction is necessary to increase the accuracy of direct selection on lamb weight at different growth stages. *Corresponding

Author: Reza Tohidi ď&#x20AC;Ş

67 | Tohidi et al.

J. Bio. Env. Sci. 2016 Introduction

North-east of Iran during 2005-2009 were utilized to

There were about 50 million heads of sheep in 2013 in

estimate the effect of environmental factors affecting

Iran (FAO, 2016). The Balouchi breed is one of the

BW, WW, W6, W9, and W12. The animals were raised

famous meat-wool sheep breeds in this country. This

in a closed system and fed with alfalfa, barley and

breed is fat tailed and well adapted to harsh

straw. Sheep were supplemented in the last month of

environmental condition of eastern and north-eastern

gestation and during lactation (usually barley), and

area of Iran (Tahmoorespur and Sheikhloo, 2011).

births occurred mainly in April and May. Lambs were

There are various production traits of this breed

left with dams until age 90 days, from this age they


were kept to fatten until reaching slaughter age.








improvement of economic traits. However, growth performances are preferred traits to improve due to

Data and analyses

low economic value of wool compared to meat

The data file contained information on individuals,

production. The growth demonstrated as a change in

sire and dam identification code, sex, litter size, birth

volume, size or shape with the passing of time is a

date, date of weighing and measure of body weight.

very important characteristic of living organisms,

The data were analyzed to estimate the effect of year

especially in meat sheep (Lupi et al., 2015). Diversity

of birth, litter size and sex of lamb born on the lamb

in performance traits could be due to several genetic

growth. The mathematical model assumed for the

and environmental factors. Any selection program

Least-Squares Analysis was:

should be designed based on the genetic and environmental effects on the objective traits (Yazdi et

Yijklm =  + Si + Aj + Lk + (SA)ij + b(Age – Age) + ijklm

al., 1999). Non-genetic factors must be corrected before starting genetic analysis. Even when an

where Yijklm is the weight of a lamb;  is the overall

attempt is made to provide a uniform environment,

mean; Si is the sex of lamb; Aj is the year of birth of a

there are still unknown environmental differences

lamb; Lk is litter size; (SA)ij is the interaction between

between animals, known as residual error. An

sex and year of birth; b is regression coefficient, Age is

adjustment should be made for environmental and

age of lamb at weighing time, ijklm is residual error. A

physiological sources of variation such as age, sex,

statistical analysis using the univariate general linear

birth type or litter size, years, seasons and such other

model from the statistical package Minitab v.16 was

environmental variables that can be evaluated (Babar

used to analyze the effect of the fixed factors and

et al., 2004).The effect of non-genetic factors on

interaction between them on the total variance of the

growth performance in sheep has been investigated in


several studies. These factors in different areas have their own specific effects regarding the environmental

The lamb’s age at weighing time was used as covariate

characteristics of related areas (Gbangboche et al.,

to correct the record of WW, W6, W9 and W12.

2006; Momoh et al., 2013). Therefore, the present

Comparison of means was performed by Tukey test,

study was carried out to investigate the effect of sex of

setting P < 0.05 to identify significant differences

lamb, year of birth and litter size on body weight of

between treatments.

Balouchi lambs at different ages. Results and discussion Materials and methods

The data were used in the present study belonging to

Animals and location of study area

Abbasabad sheep breeding station that Balouchi

The data on 1400 lambs born from 438 Balouchi ewes

breed is mainly kept over there. This sheep is a dual

sired by 61 rams kept at the Abbasabad sheep

purpose breed, however, as wool is not a valuable

breeding station located at a semi-arid area in the

product, meat is a more important trait in this breed.

68 | Tohidi et al.

J. Bio. Env. Sci. 2016 As shown in Fig. 1, there was not such a big variation

The effects of sex, birth year and litter size are shown

for BW and WW among different years, however, it

in the Tables one to three, respectively. All non-

was significant.

genetic factors that have been investigated in this study significantly influenced on lamb weights in all

Two reasons are supposed for this result, first, the

ages (P ď&#x20AC;ź 0.001). Male animals were heavier than

selection program is not suitable and second,

females as shown in Table 1.

environmental factors influence the traits. Table 1. Least square means (LSM) and standard error (SE) of lambs live weights according to sex of lambs. Trait BW

Sex1 M F WW M F W6 M F W9 M F W12 M F 1 Sex of lambs; M: male, F: female

N2 588 534 222 212 343 287 213 148 194 169

LSM3 3.671a 3.440b 21.220a 18.890b 33.020a 29.630b 41.420a 35.800b 48.130a 41.680b

SE 0.151 0.152 1.001 1.000 1.356 1.360 1.312 1.342 1.148 1.170

2 Number of records 3 Column with different superscripts within subclass indicate significant differences (P < 0.001). Table 2. Least square means (LSM) and standard error (SE) of lambs live weights according to year of birth of lambs. Trait BW





Birth year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2005 2006 2007 2005 2006 2007 2008 2005 2006 2007 2005 2006 2007

N1 176 209 239 183 315 151 188 95 136 176 159 159 103 129 129 114 90 159

LSM2 3.410b 3.638a 3.526ab 3.678a 3.526ab 17.190b 21.070a 21.900a 30.980b 32.810a 28.110c 33.400a 37.470b 39.070a 39.300a 46.650a 43.940b 44.130b

SE 0.156 0.155 0.156 0.158 0.154 1.030 1.024 1.051 1.389 1.378 1.409 1.398 1.351 1.353 1.346 1.174 1.211 1.175

1 Number of records 2 Column with different superscripts within subclass indicate significant differences (P < 0.001) This fact has been reported in the other studies

et al., 2013; Lupi et al., 2015). Differences in

(McManus et al., 2003; Babar et al., 2004; Macedo

physiological functions in both sexes cause such a

and Arredondo, 2008; Baneh and Hafezian, 2009;

tendency in body weight. The nature of testosterone, a

Ulutas et al., 2010; Gbangboche et al., 2011; Momoh

steroid hormone whose anabolic effects act as growth

69 | Tohidi et al.

J. Bio. Env. Sci. 2016 promoter, attributes in postnatal growth in males

climate conditions (precipitation, humidity and

(Lupi et al., 2015).





management as well as some environmental effects The variation in lamb weights at different ages

on the ewes during pregnancy.

observed in different years (Table 2) may be due to Table 3. Least square means (LSM) and standard error (SE) of lambs live weights according to litter size. Trait BW

Litter size 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 1 2 3





N1 565 531 18 2 5 243 182 10 2 353 264 6 2 225 133 2 209 150 2

LSM2 4.646a 3.948b 3.341c 3.044cd 2.373d 23.780a 20.080b 15.200c 15.170c 34.050a 30.630b 27.440bc 25.760c 37.870a 35.350b 37.120a 44.220a 41.640b 40.900b

SE 0.029 0.030 0.160 0.482 0.305 0.262 0.281 1.564 2.701 0.283 0.330 1.672 3.754 0.287 0.384 3.011 0.276 0.335 2.274

1 Number of records 2 Column with different superscripts within subclass indicate significant differences (P < 0.001). Table 4. Estimates of phenotypic correlation (below diagonal) and corresponded Pearson correlation P-value (above diagonal) between lambs live weights. Trait





























0.000 0.751

The management includes farmer manager, his ability

Litter size (single or multiple) had significant effects

to supervise the staff, availability of financial

on living weight at different ages of lambs, single born

resources and selection strategies. Climate and

lambs were heavier than multiple born lambs (Table

environmental changes affect the quality and quantity

3). This result is according to the earlier studies

of pasture forages, which affect the provision of food

(Dimsoski et al., 1999; Rodríguez et al., 1999;

(Baneh and Hafezian, 2009; Momoh et al., 2013).

Hernández, 2004; Hinojosa-Cuéllar et al., 2012;

Adequately fed ewes are expected to produce heavy

Gavojdian et al., 2013). This could be due to


competition for nutrient and uterine space and the limited capacity of ewes to provide more nourishment

70 | Tohidi et al.

J. Bio. Env. Sci. 2016 for the development of multiples fetuses and more

after weaning, that are higher than those of single

milk for lambs (Gbangboche et al., 2006; Momoh et

birth lambs. Therefore, there are differences between

al., 2013). However, the multiple born lambs may

breeds in term of the effect of litter size on live

demonstrate compensatory growth after weaning.

weight. In addition, the interaction between sex and

There was no variation in weaning weights among

litter size was significant (P ď&#x20AC;ź 0.01) for w9 and w12

lambs from different birth types (Quesada et al.,

that shows it should be considered in genetic

2002) and also, GonzĂĄlez et al. (2002) concluded that


lambs from multiple births reach daily weight gains

Fig. 1. Least square means of BW and W6 according to year of birth of lambs. Table 4 presents the coefficients of phenotypic

weight of Balouchi sheep from birth to 12 months of

correlation between body weights and corresponded


Pearson correlation P-value. Although, all correlation coefficients are significant, the correlation between

A breeding program needs to adjust

WW, W6, W9 and W12 are higher than correlation

according to non-genetic effects to estimate breeding

between BW and the other traits. Similar results were

values of animals accurately. Sex of lamb, year of

observed in previous studies for the Sabi sheep of

birth and litter size influenced body weight of


Balouchi lambs. Hence, the effect of these factors






(Matika et al., 2001; Rashidi, 2013; Vatankhah, 2013,

should be considered in mixed model approaches to

respectively). Phenotypic correlation between two

find pure genetic values of animals.

traits includes both the genetic and environmental correlations. With appropriate design, the genetic


correlation can be separated from the environmental

I would like to express my thanks to my colleagues in

correlation (Momoh, 2013). Therefore, in this study

the Sheep Breeding Station of Abbasabad, especially

the environmental correlation between WW and post-

Mr. Majid Jafari, for permission to use the data for

weaning weights may be higher than pre-weaning

this study.

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Analysis of the non-genetic factors affecting the growth traits of Balouchi sheep  

A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of non-genetic factors on the growth behavior of Balouchi sheep breed. The data of growth trai...

Analysis of the non-genetic factors affecting the growth traits of Balouchi sheep  

A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of non-genetic factors on the growth behavior of Balouchi sheep breed. The data of growth trai...