Farmed red deer (Cervus elaphus spp) are susceptible to infection by nematode parasites. A salivary antibody (IgA) that is naturally produced in response to exposure to a nematode parasite carbohydrate larval surface antigen (CarLA) can provide a protection against gastro-intestinal nematodes in sheep and rising-yearling farmed red deer. The concentrations of this CarLA-IgA were measured in saliva samples collected at 6 and 10 months of age, in 1531 rising-yearling progeny of 36 sires across three farms during a three-year progeny test. The CarLA-IgA concentrations differed across sires, farms and years, with 6-month levels being much lower than 10-month levels. Heritability estimates were low (h2=0.10) for 6 months, but moderate and significant (h2=0.37, P<0.05) for 10 months. These two traits were highly genetically correlated (rg=0.86) and moderately phenotypically correlated (rp=0.27). There were low (rp 0.08-0.13) but significant (P<0.05) favourable phenotypic correlations with spring and pre-slaughter live weight, and with growth rate from 3 to 10 months of age and 6 to 10 months of age. Sire variation and heritability of 10-month response indicates that it may have utility as a selection criterion for improved ability of farmed deer to cope with nematode challenge. Keywords: red deer; nematode parasite; carbohydrate larval antigen; immune; Cervus elaphus

JF, Ward, M Wheeler, RJ Shaw, and GW Asher

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 80, Online, 156-160, 2020
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