Last update: November 19, 2010 09:40:38 AM E-mail Print


Evaluation of genetic fine wool animals under natural conditions

in non-traditional fine wool producing areas


W.J. Olivier1 and J.J. Olivier2


1Grootfontein ADI, Private Bag X529, Middelburg, E.C., 5900;

2ARC:LBD (Animal Production), Private Bag X5013, Stellenbosch, 7599

Corresponding author:   Willem Olivier


The increase in the demand during the 1990’s for fine wool resulted in an increase in the production of fine wool, even in the non-traditional fine wool areas of South Africa. There was, however, a perception among the producers that the production of fine wool in these areas was not a viable production system. The purpose of this study was therefore to evaluate genetic fine wool animals under different environments in the non-traditional fine wool producing areas and to compare their growth, wool and reproduction characteristics with that of strong wool animals of each area Ewes of the Grootfontein fine wool flock were randomly divided into four groups (F), which were compared to ewes of each participant (control groups; C). The clean fleece weights (CFW) of the F ram lambs ranged from 2.13 ± 0.11 kg to 3.97 ± 0.08 kg and that of the C ram lambs from 2.18 ± 0.12 kg to 5.12 ± 0.08 kg at the different participants. The fibre diameter (MFD) for the F and C ram lambs ranged from 15.39 ± 0.20 µm to 18.63 ± 0.15 µm and 16.58 ± 0.22 µm to 21.53 ± 0.15 µm respectively. The corresponding values for CFW of the ewe lambs were 2.13 ± 0.09 kg to 3.04 ± 0.08 kg and 2.58 ± 0.09 kg to 3.95 ± 0.08 kg, and for MFD the values ranged from 16.50 ± 0.21 µm to 18.12 ± 0.15 µm and from 18.33 ± 0.23 µm to 21.69 ± 0.15 µm respectively. The profit per small stock unit (Prof) of the fine wool groups ranged from R205.83 ± 2.62 to R243.38 ± 3.41 compared to the Prof of the control groups that ranged from R190.10 ± 2.64 to R207.75 ± 3.71. It is evident from the results of this project that the F-animals produced less and finer wool compared to the C-animals. This could be expected, as a decrease in fibre diameter would result in a decrease in the fleece weight, as these traits are positively correlated. However, the most important conclusion is that the reproduction and body weight of the F-animals are in the same range as that of the C-animals. The differences in mutton production between these groups were therefore relatively small and would not have a major effect on the profitability of fine wool versus the strong wool sheep farming enterprises. Thus, it seems that fine wool can be produced under extensive farming conditions in the RSA, where it was thought that fine wool animals would not be able to produce or reproduce, without a negative effect on the profitability of a wool sheep farming enterprise.