Research Article

Morphological evolution and heritability estimates for some biometric traits in the Murgese horse breed

Published: May 17, 2006
Genet. Mol. Res. 5 (2) : 309-314

Abstract

A data set concerning 1,816 subjects entered in the Italian Horse Registry from 1925 to 2002 was analyzed to investigate the morphological evolution of the Murgese horse and to obtain useful elements to enhance breeding practices. Three basic body measurements (height at withers, chest girth, and cannon bone circumference) were considered for each subject. Heritabilities were calculated for each parameter to infer the growth and development traits of this breed. Over the past 20 years the Murgese horse has undergone considerable changes, passing from a typical mesomorphic structure (height at withers: 156.30 and 151.04 cm; chest girth: 185.80 and 176.11 cm; cannon bone: 21.10 and 19.82 cm for males and females, respectively) to a mesodolichomorphic structure (height at withers: 160.31 and 156.44 cm; chest girth: 187.89 and 182.48 cm; cannon bone: 21.07 and 20.37 cm, for males and females, respectively). Due to these changes and to its characteristic strength and power, the Murgese, which was once used in agriculture and for meat production (at the end of its life), is now involved in sports, mainly in trekking and equestrian tourism. The heritability estimates for the three body measurements were found to be 0.24, 0.39 and 0.44.

A data set concerning 1,816 subjects entered in the Italian Horse Registry from 1925 to 2002 was analyzed to investigate the morphological evolution of the Murgese horse and to obtain useful elements to enhance breeding practices. Three basic body measurements (height at withers, chest girth, and cannon bone circumference) were considered for each subject. Heritabilities were calculated for each parameter to infer the growth and development traits of this breed. Over the past 20 years the Murgese horse has undergone considerable changes, passing from a typical mesomorphic structure (height at withers: 156.30 and 151.04 cm; chest girth: 185.80 and 176.11 cm; cannon bone: 21.10 and 19.82 cm for males and females, respectively) to a mesodolichomorphic structure (height at withers: 160.31 and 156.44 cm; chest girth: 187.89 and 182.48 cm; cannon bone: 21.07 and 20.37 cm, for males and females, respectively). Due to these changes and to its characteristic strength and power, the Murgese, which was once used in agriculture and for meat production (at the end of its life), is now involved in sports, mainly in trekking and equestrian tourism. The heritability estimates for the three body measurements were found to be 0.24, 0.39 and 0.44.

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