- Production and reproduction performance of Namaqua Afrikaner sheep
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PRODUCTION AND REPRODUCTION PERFORMANCE OF NAMAQUA AFRIKANER SHEEP
1M.A. Snyman, 2T. Buys, 3M.L. Jonker
1Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute, P/Bag X529, Middelburg, 5900, South Africa
2Carnarvon Experimental Station, P.O. Box 98, Carnarvon, 8925, South Africa
3Vaalharts Research Station, Private Bag X9, Jan Kempdorp, 8550, South Africa
The Namaqua Afrikaner is one of the indigenous sheep breeds in South Africa. These fat-tailed sheep were kept in the north-western part of South Africa where extreme temperatures and low and erratic rainfall are considered to be normal. Two Namaqua Afrikaner flocks of approximately 100 ewes each are maintained by the Department of Agriculture at two of its experimental stations near the towns of Carnarvon and Upington in the Northern Cape Province. The latter was originally kept at the Tarka Conservation Area near Hofmeyr in the Eastern Cape Province from 1985 to 1991.
The calculation of growth parameters was done on data of 3017 lambs born from 1982 to 2004 in the Carnarvon flock. The data were analysed with least-squares mean procedures and fixed effects for year of birth, sex and birth status of the lamb, age of dam, group and all significant two-factor interactions were included. The least-squares means (±SE) of the production traits for rams and ewes respectively were: birth weight (4.55±0.03 kg, 4.27±0.03 kg); 100-day weaning weight (26.1±0.2 kg, 24.7±0.2 kg); average daily gain from birth to 100 days (215.4±1.6 g/day, 204.8±1.7 g/day); 8-month body weight (38.1±0.2 kg, 35.6±0.2 kg); 12-month body weight (51.9±0.2 kg, 44.0±0.2 kg); average daily gain from 100 days to 12 months (101.9±0.7 g/day, 75.7±0.8 g/day) and 18-month body weight (58.7±0.3 kg, 50.4±0.3 kg).
For reproduction traits, 2484 individual ewe records (records of 904 ewes) of the ewe flock at Carnarvon, collected from 1982 to 2004, were used. This flock was mated annually during autumn. A conception rate of 86.0±2.0 % and fecundity of 156.4±1.5 % were recorded for the Carnarvon Namaqua Afrikaner flock. The survival rate from birth to weaning was 91.4±0.8 %, while 120.8±3.8 lambs were weaned per 100 ewes mated. The Carnarvon Namaqua Afrikaner ewes weaned on average 37.5±0.7 kg lamb per ewe per year.
Data collected from 1985 to 1991 on the Tarka Namaqua ewe flock, kept under a free-mating system, indicated that the average age at first lambing was 16.5 months at an average body weight of 45.4kg. The average mating weight of adult ewes was 49.1kg. Over a period of seven years the average lambing interval for all ewes was 274 days. In respect of production parameters, the Namaqua Afrikaner compares favourably with other South African sheep breeds.
This breed is very hardy and prolific, as is evident from the relatively high reproductive performance recorded under extensive conditions. From these results it is evident that Namaqua Afrikaner ewes can be mated successfully at an early age, as well as throughout the year, and is especially suitable for mutton production under harsh conditions.
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