Veterinary Research Communications

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 101–110 | Cite as

Genetic parameter estimation and implementation of the genetic evaluation for gaits in a breeding program for assisted-therapy in donkeys

  • Francisco Javier Navas González
  • Jordi Jordana Vidal
  • Jose Manuel León Jurado
  • Amy Katherine McLean
  • Gabriela Pizarro Inostroza
  • Juan Vicente Delgado Bermejo
Original Article


Genetic analyses in donkeys are likely to face compromises in terms of sample size and population structure. This study aims at implementing a suitable model to estimate breeding values and genetic parameters for gaits in Andalusian donkeys. Empirical observation revealed that ambling donkeys (showing a slightly uneven, non-isochronous 1–2, 3–4 lateral sequence gait) did not walk (i.e. presented an isochronous, even 1-2-3-4 sequence gait) and vice versa. However, the two donkey groups could trot, equally. In this study, 2700 gait records were registered from 300 donkeys. The sample included 1350 gait records from 169 ambling/trotting donkeys and 1350 gait records from 131 walking/trotting donkeys. Fixed effects included year, season, sex, farm/owner, husbandry system, weather, ground type and appraisers. Weight and age were included as covariates. MTDFREML software was used to estimate (co)variance components, genetic parameters and predict breeding values and their accuracies in both sets, separately. Gaits’ heritability ± SE estimates were 0.56 ± 0.155, 0.53 ± 0.317 and 0.67 ± 0.166 for amble, walk and trot, respectively. Genetic correlations were 0.31 ± 0.216, 0.42 ± 0.115 and 0.28 ± 0.178, for amble and walk, amble and trot and walk and trot, respectively. Not all gaits are suitable to treat every human sensomotor condition. We developed a locomotion selection index, assessing the relative loss/gain in index accuracy when each gait modality was excluded to develop different gait specific therapeutic lines to genetically select the best performing donkeys from each gait modality. Our results suggest that gait genetic lines could be developed and may be potential selection criteria to consider in assisted-therapy donkey breeding programs.


Donkey Restricted maximum likelihood Genetic parameters Amble Walk Trot 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Javier Navas González
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jordi Jordana Vidal
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jose Manuel León Jurado
    • 2
    • 4
  • Amy Katherine McLean
    • 2
    • 5
  • Gabriela Pizarro Inostroza
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juan Vicente Delgado Bermejo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Genetics, Faculty of Veterinary SciencesUniversity of CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  2. 2.The Worldwide Donkey Breeds Project, Faculty of Veterinary SciencesUniversity of CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  3. 3.Departament de Ciència Animal i dels Aliments, Facultat de VeterinàriaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  4. 4.Centro Agropecuario Provincial de CórdobaDiputación Provincial de CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  5. 5.Department of Animal ScienceUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA

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