Economic weights for conformation traits in Mountain sheep
Abstract. Between October 2004 and April 2005, data of 304 and 504 Mountain sheep rams and ewes, respectively, were collected at seven auction sales for sheep breeding stock. Conformation scores of all animals were assessed before the auction started. In Mountain sheep, the scores 1 (worst) to 9 (best) are assigned for the conformation traits type, frame, form, feet and legs and wool. For the analysis of auction price, effects accounted for were the fixed effects of conformation traits, auction and lamb(s) sold with ewe (ewes only) as well as the covariate success at exhibitions. Auction had a significant effect on price in rams (P<0.05) and ewes (P<0.001), while for exhibition success only a trend (P<0.10) could be observed in ewes. Ewes sold with lambs did not achieve significantly higher prices. Within conformation traits, only type was found to have a significant effect in both sexes (P<0.01 in rams and P<0.001 in ewes). In rams, frame had a significant effect on auction price (P<0.001) while only a trend could be observed for form and feet and legs (P<0.10). Contrary to these results, in ewes higher scores for form and wool led to significantly higher prices (P<0.05 and <0.001, respectively). By means of the obtained Least Squares Means for score classes, economic weights for conformation traits were derived. The economic weights per genetic standard deviation, ewe place and year range from approximately € 0.9 to € 4.9 in ewes and € 1.3 to € 4.8 in rams.