Last update: November 19, 2010 09:01:03 AM E-mail Print

 

Evaluation of the genetic potential of typical Transkei ewes and rams

 

P. G. Marais, B. R. King and C. Stannard


Grootfontein ADI, P/Bag X529, Middelburg (EC), 5900

 


The aim of this study is to determine the impact of the NWGA livestock improvement program in the communal areas of the Eastern Cape. The objective of this study is to evaluate the reproductive and wool performance of the communal rams vs the commercial rams. The project started in March 2004 at four localities in the Tarkastad and Cathcart districts. These farmers represent the commercial farming group in the project. At the start of the project at each locality, a flock of 200 ewes of the farmer was randomly divided into two groups. One group of ewes was mated to six commercial rams and the other 100 ewes to six typical Transkei rams. After mating the groups were run together as one flock. The following data were collected from all commercial farms: number of ewes mated, number of ewes lambed, number of lambs born, sex, weaning weight as well as 6-month weight of lambs. The number ewes lambed/ewes mated varied between 72% and 99% among farmers. The weaning percentage (number of lambs weaned/number of ewes mated) varied between 64% and 109% among the groups mated with commercial rams and between 68% and 101% among the groups mated to Transkei rams. Both weaning and 6-month weights of progeny born of commercial rams were significantly higher than those of the progeny of Transkei rams. The following wool characterists were collected and determined: fibre diameter (MFD; µm), coefficient of variation of fibre diameter (CV-MFD, %), standard deviation of fibre diameter along the staple the length of the staple (SD) and wool weight.These results demonstrated that by introducing commercial rams to Transkei ewes, a significant improvement in growth is possible and that the ram breeding project of the NWGA could be of great commercial use in terms of slaughter weight and the improvement of wool weight and quality.