Last update: November 24, 2010 04:01:10 PM E-mail Print

 

PRODUCTION AND REPRODUCTION NORMS OF FINE AND STRONG WOOL MERINO’S

ON NATURAL PASTURES IN THE KAROO


W.J. Olivier1, J.J. Olivier2 & M.A. Snyman1

1Grootfontein ADI, Private Bag X529, Middelburg, 5900

email: Willem Olivier

2ARC:AII, Private Bag X529, Middelburg, 5900

 


The price difference between fine and strong wool lead to a tendency to produce fine wool under less favourable feeding conditions in the extensive farming areas of South Africa. It is therefore important to quantify the production and reproduction potential of fine wool genotypes in the extensive farming areas. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the production and reproduction potential of fine and strong wool Merino sheep on natural pastures at the Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute (GADI) near Middelburg (31°28'S,25°1'E) in the North-eastern Karoo region. In 1989 400 Merino ewes with an average mean fibre diameter (MFD) of 23.6 μm were randomly divided into two groups of 200 ewes each. The one group was upgraded to a fine wool group (FW) being mated annually to genetic fine wool rams from the Grootfontein Fine Wool Merino stud, while the strong wool group (SW) was mated to rams from the Grootfontein Merino stud. The least square means for body weight (BW), greasy fleece weight (GFW) and mean fibre diameter (MFD) for all the two-tooth animals and the BW, GFW and MFD for 1998 for the ewe flock, as well as the total weight of lamb weaned (TWW), number of lambs born (NLB) and weaned (NLW) over three lambing opportunities for the FW and SW respectively are summarised in Table 1.

 

Table 1. The BW, GFW, MFD, TWW, NLB and NLW for the respective groups.

 

Two-tooth animals

Ewe flock

 

FW

SW

FW

SW

  BW

37.92 ± 0.31

38.67 ± 0.31*

51.64 ± 0.69

52.61 ± 0.66

  GFW

4.19 ± 0.03

4.66 ± 0.03*

5.06 ± 0.11

5.52 ± 0.11*

  MFD

17.99 ± 0.03

19.62 ± 0.04*

19.92 ± 0.20

22.13 ± 0.19*

  NLB

 

 

4.14 ± 0.13

4.38 ± 0.13

  NLW

 

 

3.01 ± 0.12

3.03 ± 0.12

  TWW

 

 

74.57 ± 2.87

74.42 ± 2.88

It is evident from the results of this study that there was no difference in the reproduction potential of these two flocks. It is concluded that fine wool Merino’s are equal with regard to growth and reproduction, but produce less and finer wool on natural pastures in the Karoo.