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The Loa gene A new fecundity gene in Icelandic sheep Jón Vidar Jónmundsson Emma Eythórsdóttir.

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Presentation on theme: "The Loa gene A new fecundity gene in Icelandic sheep Jón Vidar Jónmundsson Emma Eythórsdóttir."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Loa gene A new fecundity gene in Icelandic sheep Jón Vidar Jónmundsson Emma Eythórsdóttir

2 Background Sheep breeding in Iceland –Lamb meat is the main product –Numbers of sheep have declined from 900,000 in 1980 to 470,000 in 2002 –Local consumption of lamb meat has fallen from 40-50 kg /capita to 22 kg –Main market is still within the country – export of lamb increasing to EU and USA

3 Background Breeding work –Recording scheme with long tradition –246,000 ewes on records in 2002 –emphasis on prolificacy – avg. 1.81 lambs/ewe 2002 –Recent years – increased emphasis on carcass quality – increased lean and reduced fat Extensive use of AI –48 rams on stations 2002 –28,500 inseminations – fresh semen Strict disease regulations limit movement of stock

4 Prolificacy of Icelandic sheep Distribution of litter size in 2002 (ewes) –Barren: 3.13 % –Single: 18.35 % –Twins: 73.26 % –Triplets: 5.08 % –Quad.+: 0.18 % Ewes with litters >2 – increased proportion due to carriers of the Thoka gene that are spread through the national flock since 1986


6 Loa from Hafrafellstunga Loa 80-092 born in spring 1980 at Hafrafellstunga in NE Iceland (zone 23) Farm with complete pedigree records since 1940s – almost 90% of ewes in the district are on records Loa had 32 lambs in nine lambings (2 to 10 yrs old) - always 3 or 4 lambs –5 ram lambs and 13 ewe lambs were kept for breeding

7 Sheep at Hafrafellstunga

8 Lambing records of Loas daughters Age of ewe No.234 Carrier*82.752.332.67 Non-carrier52.00 Difference0.750.330.67 *Carriers defined as ewes with 1 triplet litter

9 Lambing records – Loas granddaughters Age of ewe SireDaughtersNo.234 88-130Carrier442.572.562.95 Non-carrier521.691.881.85 89-176Carrier172.352.622.64 Non-carrier501.581.761.88 Diffr.0.820.770.93

10 Ewe of the Loa family with 5 lambs Lambing season 2001 at Hafrafellstunga

11 Lambing records - granddaughters Three of Loas sons did not sire daughters with exceptional prolificacy – similar performance as herd average Two sons sired daughters that could be classified into two distinct groups – indicating that the sons were heterozygous carriers Records for daughters of 89-176 are not precise – may explain uneven no. of carriers vs. non- carriers

12 Possible relation to the Thoka family? Sheep from the Loa family are concentrated at a few local farms in Öxarfjörður –disease free zone – transport of breeding stock from others zones is prohibited –Pedigree records are complete many generations back – no relation to sheep from the district where the Thoka family was found –Loa was born in 1980 – before the first progeny of Thoka carriers used in AI were born in 1985

13 Information from pedigree records Loas sire had > 50 daughters in the flock All her sisters showed good prolificacy but not exceptional as Loa Records from maternal line – no indication of exceptional prolificacy Seems to be a new mutation in Loa herself

14 Conclusions New mutation in Loa, inherited as a single gene causes increased prolificacy Effect similar to Thoka gene (+ 0.7 lambs per copy) –Very few records available on ewe lambs – effect unknown No relation to the Thoka gene –a few crosses between the families have been made recently – no records yet

15 Karl S. Björnsson, farmer at Hafrafellstunga, is gratefully acknowledged for supplying information from his sheep records

16 Hafrafellstunga Öxarfirði, NE Iceland

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