The performance of Arsi sheep, indigenous to the Arsi and Bale provinces in the highlands of Ethiopia, and its crossbreds with exotic breeds were studied. Totally 1820 records, divided into five breed groups with grades from pure Arsi to 87.5% crosses, were analysed concerning birth and weaning weights, litte r size, lamb mortality, ewe barrenness and total weaning weight/ewe lambing. Furthermore, heritabilities of the body weights were estimated for the Arsi breed.
Birth and weaning weights responded to crossbreeding up to an exotic level of 75%. Only small differences between breed groups were found regarding litte r size and lamb mortality. On the contrary, ewe barrenness increased considerably for higher upgraded animals. Total weaning weight/ewe lambing improved by crossbreeding but no differences were found among 50-87.5% crosses for this trait. However, when ewe barrenness also was accounted total weaning weight showed to be highest for the 50% crosses and then declined. H eritabilities for birth and weaning weights in the Arsi breed were estimated to 0.06t0.07 and 0.35±0.17 respectively.
It was concluded that an appropriate level of upgrading was 50% for breeding ewes and 75% for lambs aimed for mutton production.
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume XIV. Dairy cattle genetics and breeding, adaptation and conservation., , 406–409, 1990
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