Analyses of lambing dates in sheep breeds using von Mises distribution

Samir Id-Lahoucine*, Larry R. Schaeffer, Angela Cánovas, Joaquim Casellas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Regular changes in the environment and biological responses generate seasonal patterns in the reproduction in small ruminants. Breeding seasonality is a significant constraint impacting efficiency of lamb production. However, seasonality-related traits present a special peculiarity from a statistical point of view being circular data (day of year running 1:365). Recently, circular mixed models have been developed on the basis of the von Mises distribution and were applied to analyse lambing day distribution recorded from five major Canadian sheep breeds (Rideau Arcott, Romanov, Dorset, Suffolk and Polypay). In a simulation study, the linear model was not able to capture the variance components simulated under the circular paradigm; however, the von Mises model evidenced its ability to infer the variance components of simulated circular records. Using real data of sheep, mostly negligible variances were observed for additive genetic effect when using a linear model on circular data values. In contrast, when using the von Mises model, genetic variances were different across breeds, and it raises the possibility to delay the peak of reproduction and to change the seasonality of the ewes. However, a large variance was captured by flock-year effects emphasizing the strong influence of management in lambing seasons for Canadian sheep populations. Finally, the results suggest the potential of using the von Mises model to analyse circular data, and further research is needed for better understand the complexity of this trait and the von Mises models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Issue number3
Early online date11 Dec 2021
Publication statusPrint publication - May 2022


  • circular data
  • lambing distribution
  • seasonality
  • sheep
  • von Mises


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