Range forages and grasslands constitute a large part of the feed supply for sheep and goats in Turkey. Stubbles and fallow areas are other resources utilized for meeting the nutritional requirements of these species. Goats, in addition, have access to bushes, shrubs and forest areas; however, utilization of these areas by goats has become increasingly limited because of the measures applied by the state for protecting woodlands and forests.
With the mecanization of agriculture since 1950, rangelands and grasslands have been subjected to heavy ploughing for arable crop production. Thus the area of range lands and grasslands has been reduced from 37.8 million hectares in 1950 to 21.7 million hectares in 1975; the number of farm animals increased by approximately 70 percent during the same preiod (SIS, 1950 and 1976). In other words, more animais are now grazing smaller areas. Rangelands are further deteriorated under excessive and uncontrolled grazing, low rainfall and droughts. It was shown (Özmen, 1984) that common village ranges in Konya Province in Central Anatolia are grazed 71 percent heavier than the recommended intensity, which was found to be 1.3 – 4.8 hectares per animal unit for a six-month grazing period. The rangelands in the other regions of Turkey are of relatively better quality than that in Central Anatolia; however, overgrazing is a countrywide problem.
Composition of range vegetation vary according to regions and elevation. The fllowing are more frequent herbaceous species found in different regions:
Thrace: Aegilops triuncialis, Agropyron elongatum, A.intermedium, Agrostis alba, Bromus tectorum, Botriochola ischaemum, Carex glauca, Chrysopogon gryllus, Cynodon dactylon, Cynosorus cristatus, Dactylis glomerata, festuca ovina, Genista sylvestris, Koeleria cristata, Koeleria degneii, Lathyrus graceus, Loljum perenne , Lotus angustissimus, Medicago truncatula, Onobrychis alba, C. gracilis, Phieum pratense, Plantago holesteum, Poa bulbosa,.pratensis, Potentillrecta, Sanguisorba muricata, Stipa pennata, Thymus striatus, Trifolium campestre, T. incarnatum, T. repens, T. subterraneum. Vicia incana, V.sativa. (Uluocak, 1974).
Central Anatolia :Aegilops caudata, Aovata, Agropyroncristatum, A.orientale, Andropogon sp. , Artemisia fragans, Astragallus collinus, A.ovalis, Bromus scoparius, Btectorum, Chrysopogongryllus, Dactyiis glomerata, Elymuscaput-medusae, Festuca ovina, Hedysarum varium, Medicago lupinastrum, M.sativa, Onobrychis armena, Poa bulbosa, Saivisp., Stipa lagascae, Stipa pennata, Thymus squarrosus, Trifolium fragiferum . (Tarman, 1962; Alinoglu, 1984).
Eastern Anatolia : Agropyron cristatum, A.elongatum, A. repens, Agrostis, ajba, Alopecurus spp., Andropogon caucasicus, Artemisia sp., Astragalus sp., Bromus inermis, B.macrostacys, Cynodon dactylon, Dactylis glomerata, Elymus caput-medusae, Festuca ovina, Hordeum bulbosum, H.murinum, Koeleria cristata, K.glauca, K.phleoides , Lolium prenne, Lotus carnculatus, L.purpurea, Melilotus officinal is, Onobrychi s sp., Phleum pratanse, Poa bulbosa, P.persica, Thymus sp. Trifolium ambiguum, T.incarnatum, T.repens, T.pratense. Vicia sp. (Erkun and Nixon, 1955; Sari, 1976; Uluocak, 1984).
Proportion of good quality herbs is reported as 70–80 percent for the grazing lands of Eastern Anatolia and Black Sea Region and 15–20 percent for Central Anatolian steppes (Gencakan, 1970). In Konya Province of Central Anatolia grasses, legumes and other fami lies were found to constitute respectively 28.2, 4.2 and 67.6 percent of the plant cover of village ranges; there were great variations between villages in this respect. Hay yield of the villageranges, when harvested from the surface of the soil, varied from 359 kg/ha to 1617 kg/ha with an average value of 754 kg/ha. Corresponding values for qualitygrades of these ranges were 1.20, 4.36 and 3.03 (Ózmen, 1984). For Eastern Anatolia and southeastern Anatolia, average hay yieids were reported as 800 kg/ha and 300 kg/ha, respectively.
Stubble, i.e. cereal crop aftermath, is an important feed resource for sheep and goats in Turkey. After the harvest of cereals, animais are grazed on the harvested fields during autumn and, in some regions, through winter. Amount of stubble consumed, over a seven-month period, on wheat and barley fields near Ankara is estimated between 272 and 315 kg/ha, and the total amount of stubble consumed in Turkey annually is estimated to be 2.5 – 3.0 million tons (Büyükburç, 1984).
Traditionally, a cereal crop / fallow rotation is practiced indryland farming in Turkey. As a resuit of this practice, annually, about 8.5 million hectares of agricultural land is left to fallow. However, the plants growing on these fields serve as a forage resource for sheep and goats.
Basic feedstuffs produced in the country are hay, straw, barley, oats, maize, wheat-bran, dried sugarbeet pulp, molasses, sunflower oil meal and cottonseed oil meal.
Sheep and goat production in Turkey is based mainiy on the utilization of the areas unsuitable for cultivation, of stubbles and fallow areas. Therefore, availability of forages, seasonality of vegetation and topographical and climatic conditions determine the type of production system to be used in different localities and regions. Three types of production System are in operation; these are sedentary, transhumant and nomadic Systems.
In this system, sheep and goat flocks are kept at or close to the village or farm all the year round. During the day they are grazed either on the common village range or on privately-owned or hired grazing areas; they also have access to stubbles and fallow fields. For the night they return to their sheds in the village or on the farm. These flocks are shepherded all the time during grazing. Sedentary flocks are wintered in simple sheds for 1–5 months depending on the region and severity of the climatic conditions.
Sedentary system is common in sheep raising in ail the regions of the country and in Angora raising in Central Anatolia. It is less frequent among hairy goat flocks. Village flocks managed under this System may consist of 200–300 sheep or goats; number of animals in private farm flocks vary between 50 and 300. Household sheep and goat keeping in the villages and towns may also be considered within this System. These family flocks may consist of 2–5 sheep or goats of milk type. They graze the vegetation in the gardens and around the nearby crop fields.
The traditional transhumant System of sheep and goat production is still common in different parts of the country, especially in the mountainous Mediterranean, Black Sea and Eastern Anatolian regions. Transhumant sheep and goat flocks move out of the hotter and drier lowland areas in the end of spring to graze on the better and cooler grazing areas of highlands and plateaus. After remaining there for 4–5 months, they return to their base villages or farms in autumn, where they are fed or grazed through following spring.
The grazing areas on highlands and plateaus are in general state property. Those belonging to private persons are rented by flock owners for grazing. Flocks may be private or communal, i.e. owned by different persons. In the latter case, individual owners contribute to the shepherding, grazing and other expenses according to the numbers of their animals in the flock. The transport of the animals to the summer grazing areas is either by walking or by road.
Transhumant flocks are generally larger than sedentary flocks, their sizes varying between 300 and 500 animals. Usually, they are composed either of sheep or of goats, but sheep flocks may have few goats in them. In some regions, like northeast Turkey, sheep and goats are often run in mixed flocks.
Nomadic System of production involves eastern and southeastern regions of the country and is limited to sheep keeping only. In these regions, it is practiced alongside with the transhumant and sedentary Systems. Nomadic flocks follow the seasonal growth of the vegetation in a migration from the lowland winter ranges in southeastern Anatolia to highland summer pastures in eastern Anatolia and back. As different from transhumant flocks, they neither have any base village nor any form of shelter. During their annual migration cycle, they cover much longer distances, often totalling several hundreds of kilometers. As a resuit of this System, great numbers of flocks are gathered in the southeastern Anatolian ranges, especially in Diyarbakir and Urfa Provinces, in the autumn, and they remain there until mid-spring.
Tribes may contain several sections and families and have several flocks. Members of the families move together with their flocks and live in the tents made of goat hair. Flocks belonging to one tribe consist usually of sheep from only one breed; tribesmen belonging to Beritan tribe for example keep only Red Karaman sheep. Each tribe may have up to 150.000 – 200.000 sheep.
The implementation of the Southeastern Anatolian Irrigation Project in the near future will bring part of the grazingland in the region under cultivation. In accordance with this, government has plans for settling nomadic flock owners in the area. These developments are expected to reduce the number of nomadic sheep flocks in the region. However, the system is likely to persist in the decades to come but at a smaller scale.
Nutrition of sheep in Turkey during the grazing season depends almost entirely on grazing of natural pastures, stubble and fallow fields. Grazing season starts between February and April depending on the region, elevation, the distrance from the sea and severity of winter. Vegetation dries off in the beginning of summer in almost all regions except on high grazing lands. With the commencement of rains in autumn, some revival of vegetation occurs on the lowland ranges. Grazing season usually continue until the end of November in central and eastern regions and in the higher parts of southeastern Anatolia. The quality and density of grass on the central and southeastern ranges are generally low.
In the Aegean, Marmara and Thrace Regions vegetation and pasture quality are better, and grazing season longer than in the above regions. In the milder coastal strips of Eastern Black Sea and Mediterranean Regions sheep and goats are grazed all the year round. The grazing lands in these parts of the country provide fairly adequate nutrition during the grazing season. However, they are getting smaller due to the widening of the corp-producing areas.
The nutritional pattern in spring, summer and autumn is essentially the same for all types of production systems, the only source of nutrition being natural pastures, stubbles and fallows. Nutrition of sheep during the winter, however, differs according to the type of the flock. Nomadic flocks are maintained even in the winter on rangelands without extra feeding. Sedentary and transhumant flocks, on the other hand, are wintered on the owners'farms or in the villages, when they are fed on straw and, if available, on hay; a few of the flock owners feed their sheep about 100 to 200 g per head daily of barley toward the end of pregnancy and during early lactation. Lambs suckle their mothers twice a day during the first month (or first two months) of life, and for another month they go to pasture with their mothers; they are weaned at 1 1/2 – 3 months of age.
The Angora goats are raised mainly in Central Anatolia, generally as sedentary flocks. The nutritional pattern is much the same as for sheep in the region. Only a small proportion of the Angora goat flocks are associated with brushy land. The main sources of nutrition for common hair goats of hilly and mountaineous regions are shrubs, bushes and grazing areas around forests.
Sedentary and trarnshumant sheep and Angora goat flocks are usually housed in the winter. The sheds are simple and often unhygienic, and made of stone, bricks, mud bricks or wood depending on the availability of these materials. Courtyards and open shelters near or adjoining the houses are also used for this purpose. In cold regions some kind of shelter is also provided for hair goats in the winter; in mild regions they are kept in simple enclosures or in a nearby cave, if available, when necessary. Housing is a means of protecting the adult animals and the new-born against cold weather and predators, particularly in regions receiving heavy snawfall in the winter. Nomadic flocks spend the winter on the lowland ranges without the provision of any kind of shelter. In the open conditions, flocks are always shepherded and special shepherd dogs are used for protecting the flocks against predator animals.
The majority of sheep and goat breeds in Turkey are belived to be seasonal breeders. Within this seasonal limitation, the time of mating is influenced by the availability of forages on the grazingland during and after lambing. As a result, matings take place within the following periods in different regions: September–October in Central Anatolia, October–November in eastern Anatolia, August–September in southeastern Anatolia and Mediterranean and Black Sea Regions, July–August in Aegean Region and Thrace, and June–July in Southern Marmara Region. In Central Anatolia Angora goats are usually mated about one month later than sheep for kidding in a more suitable time. In southern Marmara Region and Thrace, mating in some sheep flocks is one or one and a naif months earlier than the usual time for the production of out of season lambs.
Rams and bucks are usually kept in the flock during the grazing season. However, some sedentary sheep and Angora goat owners introduce their rams or bucks into the flock only for the mating season; in this case mating continues over a period of 35 to 40 days. In general, ewes and does do not receive any supplementary feeding before and during the mating season. For some flocks, stubble provides a fairly good level of nutrition at that time, and serves as a means of flushing. Rams and Angora bucks, on the other hand, are usually fed some concentrates starting about one month before and continuing during mating season.
Age at first mating is normally 18 months for both males and females. In some Angora goat flocks, does are mated for the first time at 30 months. Ewes and does are used in reproduction up to 7 or 8 years of age. Rams and bucks are usually culled at younger ages (4 to 6 years). Number of females put to each male vary between 30 and 40.
In the majority of the sheep and Angora goat flocks of state farms, males are kept separated from females all the time, and matings are carried out by the use of artificial insemination; in these flocks females in estrus state are dentified with the use of aproned males. Artificial insemination is also practiced in some of the producers' flocks in Central Anatolia for inseminating fat-tailed native ewes with Merino semen.
Lambing takes place in February, March and April in central and eastern regions, and in December, January and February in the coastal regions and in southeastern Anatolia. The ewes and Angora does belonging to sedentary and transhumant flocks give birth to their young usually in the shed. Lambs and kids remain there for the first one or two months of their lives. During that time they sucle their mothers twice a day and receive some hay and concentrates. Later they go for grazing with their mothers until weaning. Lambs and hairy type kids are weaned between one and a half and three months of age. In the majority of the flocks in Thrace and southern Marmara Region lambs are weaned at as early as one and a half months, the chief reason for this being to milk the ewes to obtain more marketable milk.
Milking of sheep and hair goats is a general practice in Turkey. After weaning, animals are milked by hand for two to three months. Milking period is longer in Awassi and Sakiz breeds. The majority of Angora goat flocks are not milked, the reasons for this being long suckling period and poor milk production in this breed. Milk obtained from sheep and goats is partly used locally for the nutritional needs of the rural owners, and excess milk is used or sold for cheese making.
Shearing of sheep takes place in May and during the first half of June in different regions of the country. Angora goats are usually shorn earlier (in April); shedding or partial peeling of fleece in the early spring is the main reason for this early shearing. The majority sheep owners and goat raisers shear their animals once in a year. However, in some sheep flocks of Awassi, Karayaka and Imroz breeds shearing twice-a-year is also practiced.
Identification and production recording of animals are almost non-existent in sheep and goat flocks belonging to the producers; nor is there any breed association for these species in the country. In some flocks animals are marked or branded with a special sign only for showing their ownership. Selection and culling decisions are therefore made by visual appraisal and according to the experiences of the owners or shepherds.
In sheep and Angora goat flocks of the state farms, on the other hand, animals are identified by ear-tagging and/or tatooing, and in the majority of them parentage is kept and production characteristics are individually recorded. Merino type sheep and Angora goats are fleece-sampled and fleece characteristics are measured in state wool laboratories. In the state farms, pure flocks of native sheep breeds, Merinos and Angora goats are maintained and improved through selection. Rams and bucks from these improved flocks are made available to the producers at suitable prices, as an attempt to pass the genetic superiority of these flocks to the producers' flocks. However, in view of the large sheep and Angora goat populations in the country, the impact of this activity on the overall improvement is limited.
Several bacterial infections, some zoonotic in character, are still encountered among sheep and goats in Turkey and cause deaths and production losses in these species. More important ones are Anthrax, Brucellosis, Campylobacterios is, Enterotoxaemia, Infectious Necrotic Hepatitis, Listcriosls Necrobacillosis, Pasteurellosis, Contagious Agalactia, Pleuropneumonia Contagiosa Caprum (Arda et al., 1983).
As to the viral infections, mention should be made to Echtyrma, Sheep and Goat Pox, Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Adenovirus infections and Blue Tong. Clinical cases of Loupirtg 111 are reported from Thrace Region. Para Influensa and Border Disease have been serologically identified (Burgu, 1983).
For most of these bacterial and viral diseases vaccines are produced within the country. Systematic vaccinations, as well as spot vaccinations in the case of an outbreak, are applied to sheep and goats by the government veterinary services. A project for the eradication of Brucellossis in the country has been in operation since 1983; according to this project lambs and kids are vaccinated with Rev.I vaccine. In Thrace Region, which has been chosen as buffer-zone for the control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease, sheep and goats, together with-cattle, are systematically vaccinated against the agent; in the Anatolian part ring vaccinations are carried out when outbreaks occur.
The climatic conditions of Turkey is suitable for the development of helminth parazites. Diseases caused by them are quite widespread in the country. Helminth diseases in sheep and goats, often accompanied by poor nutrition, lead to great economic losses in terms of meat, milk and wool, and to deaths. Important helminth species attacking sheep and goats in Turkey are Dictyocaulus filaria, Protostrongylus rufescens, P. unciphorus Trichostrongylus spp., Ostertagia spp., Haemonchuscontortus, Monezia expansa, Chyst hydatic, Coenurus cerebralis, Cysticercus tenuicolis, fasciola hepatica, F.gigantuca and Dicrocoelium lanceatum (Tinar, 1983).
Of the metabolic disorders, Muscular distrophia and Enzootic ataxia are encountered among sheep and goats in certain ereas.
Wastage and mortality in the ewe flocks were studied in a survey of flocks in different regions of Turkey (Roberts et al., 1968). The results indicated that malnutrition was not an important cause of death, that disease of one kind or another caused substantial losses in approximately half the lowland flocks, and that in the upland flocks, mortality attributable either to disease or malnutrition was negligible. Shepherding was found to be highly competent and perinatal disease of both ewes and lambs was very low. Disregarding some exceptional disposais and losses, the mean annual wastage was about 20 percent, made up of 12 percent sold in the normal course of farming, 0.5 percent killed by wolves, 1.5 percent eliminated for brucellosis, 2 percent unaccounted for and 4 percent mortality.
In spite of the poor nutritional and unsuitable weather conditions and prevalance of various diseases, lamb losses are less than one would expect. In the majority of studies, lamb mortality up to the weaning age was found to be less than 10 percent. This is probably due to the hardiness of the native sheep and goat breeds, competent shepherding, and to the housing of the animals in the majority of the flocks during critical periods