Free Access
Genet. Sel. Evol.
Volume 34, Number 5, September-October 2002
Page(s) 581 - 596
Genet. Sel. Evol. 34 (2002) 581-596
DOI: 10.1051/gse:2002024

Genetic parameters for lactation traits of milking ewes: protein content and composition, fat, somatic cells and individual laboratory cheese yield

Med. Houcine Othmane, Juan Antonio Carriedo, Fermin San Primitivo and Luis Fernando De la Fuente

Departamento de Producción Animal I, Universidad de León, 24071 León, Spain

(Received 12 July 2001; accepted 25 February 2002)

The effects of some environmental variation factors and the genetic parameters for total milk traits (fat content, protein content, casein content, serum protein content, lactation mean of individual laboratory cheese yield (LILCY), lactation mean of somatic cell count (LSCC), and milk yield) were estimated from the records of 1 111 Churra ewes. Genetic parameters were estimated by multivariate REML. Heritability for fat content was low (0.10) as is usually found in the Churra breed. Heritabilities for protein content, casein content, serum protein content, LILCY, milk yield and somatic cell count were 0.31, 0.30, 0.22, 0.09, 0.26 and 0.11, respectively. The highest heritability estimates were for protein and casein contents. Casein content is not advisable as an alternative to protein content as a selection criterion for cheese yield improvement; it does not have any compelling advantages and its measurement is costly. Our results for LSCC indicated that efforts should focus on improving the level of management rather than selecting for somatic cells, in the actual conditions of the Churra breed.

Key words: dairy ewes / casein content / individual laboratory cheese yield / genetic parameters / selection goal

Correspondence and reprints: Luis Fernando De la Fuente E-mail:

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2002