This study was conducted at the grasscutter section of the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana, to estimate non-genetic effects on reproductive and survival traits. Data consisted of records on 136 does from 2006 to 2010. Litter size at weaning, litter weight and lactation weight loss all increased (P < 0.01) with increasing litter size at birth. Litter weight and lactation weight loss increased (P < 0.05) at weaning, whilst days of joining decreased (P < 0.01), with increasing years. Minor rainy season was found to be the most suitable mating season. Dams that kidded in dry season took fewer (P < 0.05) days to conceive than in other seasons. Nursing dams lost more (P < 0.05) weight in dry and minor rainy seasons than in major rainy season. Increasing parity led to decreasing (P < 0.05) pre-weaning survival of offspring. Post-weaning survival of offspring decreased (P < 0.01) with increasing years. Kids conceived in the minor rainy and dry seasons had significantly higher (P < 0.05) post-weaning survival rates than those conceived in the major rainy season. Post-weaning survival rates of kids born in the minor rainy season were lower (P < 0.05) than those born in other seasons. It was concluded that non-genetic factors influenced fitness traits and must therefore be considered when designing grasscutter breeding programmes.
Key words: Domestication, environmental factors, reproduction, rodent.
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