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Heritability in Merino sheep breeding

How well sheep perform is due to their genetic makeup and environment. Heritability estimates how much of the superiority of the parents is, on average, passed onto their progeny. When you select Merino sheep for breeding, you can expect that their better production performance will be inherited by their offspring.

Measurement of heritability

Estimates of heritability tell the breeder how effective selection is likely to be. Heritabilities are divided arbitrarily into high, moderate, and low.

The higher the rate of heritability, the greater chance that the characteristics you are looking to encourage in your sheep will be passed from parent to offspring.

Below is a list of traits and their corresponding heritability in sheep.

TraitHeritability
Fibre diameter High
Clean fleece weight High
Staple strength Moderate
Lean meat yield Moderate
Eye muscle depth Moderate
Fat depth Moderate
Weight Moderate
Worm egg count Moderate
Birth weight Low
Number of lambs born/weaned Low

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