Literature evidence revealed several sources of genes that could be used to shorten the tails of sheep. Genes from the Northern short-tail group are preferable as there are no known detrimental effects on viability. Tail length from anus to tip, divided by the distance from anus to hock and calculated as a percentage was used to correct tail length for body size differences. Adjusted tail length of the progeny was best explained by additive effects for adjusted tail length of the sire (P<0.001) and dam breed (P<0.001). A small but significant interaction was also evident (P<0.01). Mean tail length was shortest for Finnish Landrace lambs (88mm) and longest for Wiltshire x Cheviot lambs (251mm). Cheviot lambs had long tails (226mm), while various crosses between Finnish Landrace and Cheviots suggest that mean tail length will be the average of the parents. The experiment suggests inheritance of a number of genes and that it will therefore be straightforward to produce genetically-docked tails using cross breeding followed by selection and interbreeding.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 195-198, 2002
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