Genetic Selection for Resistance to Gastrointestinal Parasitism in Meat Goats and Hair Sheep through a Performance Test with Artificial Infection of Haemonchus contortus
by Yoko Tsukahara (IGA Board member), Terry A. Gipson (IGA member), Steven P. Hart (IGA member), Lionel Dawson, Zaisen Wang, Ryszard Puchala, Tilahun Sahlu (IGA Board member), and Arthur L. Goetsch (IGA member)
Internal parasitism has been an important constraint to small ruminant production and anthelmintic resistance has become a worldwide issue. This study evaluated a 3-year genetic selection program through activities on-farm and a centralized performance test and also provided estimates of genetic parameters of growth and response to artificial infection with Haemonchus contortus by goats and sheep in the southcentral USA. Considerable species as well as breed differences were found in average daily gain and response to parasite infection. Average daily gain was greater for Boer than for Kiko and Spanish goats and slightly greater for Dorper than for St. Croix sheep. Infection level (number of eggs found in feces) of Spanish and St. Croix were relatively low each year, whereas that of Kiko and Dorper was lower after selection. An indicator of anemia (packed cell volume) did not always reflect infection level, which is probably reflective of differences among animals in resilience and susceptibility to haemonchosis. Moderate to high heritabilities were found for growth performance and response to parasite infection for growing meat goat and hair sheep males under a standardized environment that suggests considerable potential for genetic improvement through selection.
Internal parasitism has been the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in small ruminants in many areas such as the southcentral USA. Among the different approaches and management practices to cope with internal parasitism, genetic selection for internal parasite resistance is recognized as one with considerable potential long-term impact. A central performance test with artificial infection of Haemonchus contortus for selection of growing meat goats and hair sheep for breeding to increase resistance to internal parasitism and on-farm selection of females was conducted for 3 years. The results varied considerably among breeds of goats and flocks of sheep. Spanish goats and St. Croix sheep maintained relatively low fecal egg count (FEC) each year, whereas for goats categorized as being of high resistance and Dorper sheep FEC decreased with advancing year. Packed call volume (PCV) and total serum immunoglobulin (Ig) levels were not strongly related to FEC. Genetic parameters varied between the two species, which might be related to previous selection pressure exerted for parasite resistance. Heritability of FEC was higher in goats than sheep. The genetic correlation between FEC and IgM and IgG was negative for both species, which suggests possible genetic association. Genetic and phenotypic correlations between ADG and FEC were nonsignificant for both species. In conclusion, different relationships of FEC and PCV between species require careful attention during selection and the lack of relationship between ADG and FEC suggests that selection of growing male meat goats and hair sheep for resistance to internal parasitism will not adversely affect growth performance.
Keywords: genetic selection; Haemonchus contortus; hair sheep; meat goats; genetic parameters
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