Modelling for the inheritance of multiple births and fertility in endangered equids: Determining risk factors and genetic parameters in donkeys (Equus asinus)

F. J. Navas, J. Jordana, A. K. McLean, J. M. León, C. J. Barba, A. Arando, J. V. Delgado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

Abstract

© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Multiple births or twinning in equids are dangerous, undesirable situations that compromise the life of the dam and resulting offspring. However, embryo vitrification and freezing techniques take advantage of individuals whose multiple ovulations allow flushing more fertilised embryos from the oviduct to be collected, increasing the productivity and profitability of reproductive techniques. Embryo preservation is especially important in highly endangered populations such as certain donkey (Equus asinus) breeds; for which conventional reproductive techniques have previously been deemed inefficient. For instance, becoming an effective alternative to artificial insemination with frozen semen to preserve the individuals' genetic material. The objective of this study was to examine the historical foaling records of Andalusian donkeys to estimate prevalence, risk factors, phenotypic and genetic parameters for multiple births, assessing the cumulative foal number born per animal, maximum foal number per birth and multiple birth number per animal. We designed a Bayesian General Animal Mixed Model with single records considering the ‘fixed’ effects of birth year, birth season, birth month, sex, farm, location, and husbandry system. Age was considered and included as a linear and quadratic covariate. Gibbs sampling reported heritability estimates ranging from 0.18 ± 0.101 to 0.24 ± 0.078. Genetic and phenotypic correlations ranged from 0.496 ± 0.298 to 0.846 ± 0.152 and 0.206 ± 0.063 to 0.607 ± 0.054, respectively. Predicted breeding values obtained enable the potential selection against/for these traits, offering a new perspective for donkey breeding and conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-226
JournalResearch in Veterinary Science
Volume126
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Donkey
  • Gibbs sampling
  • Heritability
  • Risk factors
  • Twinning

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