Litter size components in a full diallel cross of four maternal lines of rabbits.

Autores UPV
Revista Journal of Animal Science


A crossbreeding experiment between 4 Spanish maternal lines of rabbits was performed to estimate crossbreeding effects on litter size components. The experiment was designed as a complete diallel cross involving 4 lines selected for litter size at weaning (A, V, H, and LP [L]) and their 12 simple crosses. Does from these 16 genetic groups were distributed among 4 Spanish farms, but only V line was present in all farms, allowing connectivity of the data. A total of 2,015 does in the third, fourth, or fifth gestations were subjected to laparoscopy. The recorded traits were ovulation rate (OR), number of implanted embryos (IE), total born (TB), embryo survival (ES), foetal survival (FS), and prenatal survival (PS). The differences in direct genetic effects, maternal genetic effects, and individual heterosis between the lines were estimated according to Dickerson¿s model. Line A was significantly inferior to lines V and H, whereas line LP was similar to A line, but for FS and PS, line A showed the best values, followed by line LP. Comparing crossbred groups to line V, significant differences were shown favoring crossbred groups for OR and IE. The crossbred groups presented high implantation rate, but the foetal survival was lower than in V line. Important values for commercial production were presented by some crosses for OR (HV, 1.26 ova), IE (AH, 1.50 embryos; HV, 1.41 embryos), and TB (AH, 0.82 rabbits; HV, 0.78 rabbits). Relevant and significant reciprocal effects were found, especially for OR in all cases except the LV and VL crosses. These differences become nonsignificant in most of the other traits. Regarding direct genetic effects, line A presented lower estimates than the other lines with important values for OR, but the opposite was observed for FS. The maternal effects were significant only for some contrasts in OR and revealed that the LP line was inferior to the others (1.08 ova compared to the A line, 1.23 compared to the H line, and 0.38 compared to the V line). In general, high positive values for heterosis were found in crossbred does for OR and IE. The crosses, where lines A and H were involved, showed significant heterosis. The highest values were obtained by crossing lines A and H (1.18 ova for OR, 1.87 embryos for IE) followed by the cross between lines H and V. Crosses between line LP and the other lines had a negative heterosis for FS and PS.