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In Turkey, research on sheep and goat production is carried out in the research institutes and state farms belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Affairs, and in the veterinary and agricultural faculties of the various universities. These activities are also supported by the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey which finance individual research projects and affiliated research units. This chapter deals with research work together with problems in sheep and goat production, with special emphasis on breeding, nutrition and manageme

6.1. Research on Sheep Production

6.1.1. Production Potential

Much of the research on sheep production in Turkey was concerned until 1960 with the body conformation and production levels of individual sheep breeds under extensive and semi-intensive conditions of the government institutions. Since then, considerable information has been accumulated on their performance under more intensive conditions and under field conditions. The results of the majority of these studies have already been referred to in Section 5.1. Some of these worth mentioning for demonstrating production potentials of the sheep breeds in the country Results of the other studies related to production are also given below.

Reproduction : In different breeds of sheep in the country the birth rate is in general at a satisfactory level (80–85 percent). In the majority of the breeds percentage of twin births is low. The average litte size in White Karaman, Red Karaman, Dağliç, Awassi, Karakul, Karayaka and Tuj breeds very from 1.0 to 1.1, and in Kivircik and Gökceada breeds it is in the order of 1.1 – 1.2. The most prolific breed in the country is the Sakiz with an average litter size of 1.7 – 2.3, followed by Central Anatolian Merino which has a litter size of 1.4 – 1.5 (See Section 5.1)

However, the results of the recent research work show that their reproductive potential is higher than the above figures suggest. Under slightly better feeding and good management conditions, birth rate was 85–91 percent in White Karaman (Yalçin and Aktaş, 1976; Örkiz et al., 1984), 84 percent in Red Karaman and 82 percent in Awassi (Özsoy and Vanli, 1984 a), 88–89 percent in Dağliç (Yalçin et al., 1977; Evrim 1978 a), 85 percent in Kivirck (Sönmez et al., 1976), 87 percent in Karayaka (Aritürk et al., 1985) and 97 percent in Gökçeada breed (Yalçin et al . , 1980). Average litter size under similar conditions was 1.15 – 1.22 for White Karaman (Yalçin and Aktas, 1976; Öykiz et al., 1984), 1.27 for Red Karaman (Akçapinar et al., 1984), 1.30 for Kivircik (Sönmez et al., 1981) and 1.26 for Gökceda sheep (Yalçin et al., 1980). Litter sizes of five groups of White Karaman ewes, flushed with feed of different energy levels for four weeks before mating, varied from 1.20 to 1.50 (Işik, 1980).

Higher levels of prolificacy were obtained with intravaginal application of hormone sponges (impregnated with 40 mg Cronolone) and subsequent PMSG injection to White Karaman and Anatolian Merino ewes (Aşkin, 1982). With this treatment, proportions of single, twin, triplet and quadriplet births in Anatolian Merino ewes were 43.9, 52.4, 3.5 and 0.2 percent in the given order; the proportions of the first three birth types in White Karaman ewes were 50.6, 46.4 and 3.0 percent, respectively. Average litter size was 1.60 in Anatolian Merino and 1.52 in the White Karaman. Köseoğlu (1978), treating Karakul ewes in the beginning of breeding season with intradermal injection of 500 IU PMSG in three successive days, obtained litter sizes of 1.47 – 1.71 and 1.00 – 1.18 for treated and untreated groups, in that order.

At present, there is limited information on the primary reproductive characteristics of sheep breeds in Turkey. In Karacabey Merino, the average length of estrus cycle and duration of estrus was found to be 17.6 days and 30.1 hours, respectively (Çetinkaya, 1979). Mean levels of the primary reproductive characteristics of different native breeds were studied by Kaymakçi (1982); the results of this study are given in Table 6.1.

Table 6.1. Mean values for the primary reproductive characteristics of different sheep breeds in Turkey.

Age at first estrus (day)225217304301-
Weight at first estrus (kg)-33.536.036.5-
Duration of estrus (hour)29.534.832.028.627.8
Length of estrus cycle (day)15.716,516.917.117.9
Duration of breeding season (day)146116104103248

The results of this study supports the general experience that the native sheep breeds of Turkey are in general seasonal breeders.

Örkiz and On (1978) studied the out-of-season reproductive performances of Karacabey and Central Anatolian Merino ewes. Ewes which were barren at the end of the normal lambing season were mated soon after lambing; in the two groups birth rates were 54 and 79 percent and average litter sizes were 1.15 and 1.11, respectively.

In addition to its known advantages, syncronization of estrus and lambings in sheep in Turkey is particularly important in facilitating A.I. operations in the field.In a study by Özkoca (1966), Merino x White Karaman ewes were treated with 15 nig progesterone intramuscularly for five successive days followed by 500 I.U. PXSG injection on the sixth day; lambingsrelated to the first inseminations were completed in 11 and 55 days in treatment and control groups, respectively. Özkoca (1968) also compared the results of intravaginal and intramuscular progestagen administrations in Merino x White Karaman ewes. In the group treated with 30 mg intravaginal Cronolone for 17 days, 98 percent of the ewes showed estrus in 5 days and lambed within 9 days; the pregnancy rate was 87 percent. In the group receiving a daily dose of 15 mg Corluton for five days, all the ewes were mated within 9 days; lambing was compleded within 7 days and a pregnancy rate of 90 percent was obtained. In another study (Aşkin, 1982), intravaginal administration of sponges (impregnated with 40 mg Cronolone) were administered to groups of White Karaman and Anatolian Merino ewes for 14 days, and soon after the removal of the sponges 200, 400 and 600 I.U. PMSG was injected to the ewes in different sub-groups. In White Karaman and Anatolian Merino groups respectively 92 and 91 percent, of ewes lambed within seven days; in the control froups mating lasted 45 days and lambing was completed in about. 50 days. Birth rate was similar in treatment and control groups. The dose of PMSG did not influence birth rate; litter size was significantly increased with PMSG administration, effect being greater with the higher doses.

Artificial insemination in sheep has been used since 1934 in this country. In fact, it is the only means for carrying out crossbreeding programmes involving thin-tailed improved breeds and fat-tailed native breeds (for example Merino x White Karaman crossbreeding). The use of fresh ram semen in I.A in sheep causes serious difficulties in the field. A number of studies have been carried out in order to investigate the usefulness of different semen diluters and the effects on fertility of storing ram semen at 5°C for different durations (Özkoca, 1961 a, 1951 b, 1964 and 1967; Gökcen, 1981). Results with diluted semen were generally favourable, but storing semen for more than 6 hours at 5°C resulted in with lower fertility as compared to controls. Low birth rates (18–27 percent) were obtained with frozen ram semen (Gökcen, 1977), There is need for further research for obtaining better fertility results with frozen ram semen.

Growth and Fattening Performance : The available information on the growth performances of various sheep breeds have already been given in Section 5.1, Data on the fattening performances of different breeds are summarized below. Results of the fattening experiments have shown that lambs of some of the native breeds have quite satisfactory fattening performance.

In spite of the relatively small body size in the Kivircik breed, the lambs of this breed appears to have a good fattening ability, as shown by an experiment (Aki, 1977) carried out at İnanli State Farm in Tekirdağ (Table 6.2). In this experiment, groups of differently rared 90-day-old Ktvircik single-born male lambs were either kept on range entirely or fattened intensively to 150 days of age. At the end of 60-day period average liveweights of range groups were 34.5 – 37.6 kg and those of intensively fattened groups were 42.8 – 45.8 kg; corresponding average daily gains were 103– 130 g and 240 – 255 g, respectively. When range groups were intensively fattened from 150 days to 210 days they showed compensatory growth by reaching average weights of 51.8 – 55.2 kg and gaining daily 278 – 293 g during the 60-day fattening period. Fattening from 90 days to 150 days improved carcass quality in terms of dressing percentage and proportion of separable meat in the sample joint.

Table 6.2. Performance of male Kivircik lambs under different rearinq and fattening regimes.

TraitsType of rearing
StudiedGroup 1Group 2Group 3
No. of lambs484848
Birth weight (kg)
90-day weight (kg)28.429.130.5
Dressing percentage49.851.852.6
Separable meat (percent)62.762.462.4
Separable fat (percent)11.811.311.3
Bone (percent)24.224.423.6
 Type of fattening
 Group 1Group 2Group 3
No. of lambs222222222222
90-day weight (kg)28.328.429.129.130.430.5
Fattening period (day)606060606060
150-day weight (kg)34.542.836.943.637.645.8
Dressing percentage-54.0-53.3 54.5
Separable meat (percent)-67.5-69.8-70.0
Separable fat (percent)-12.3-10.9-10.9
Bone (percent)-17.6-16.6-16.0
No. of lambs222022
150-day weight (day)34.536.937.6
Fattening period (day)606060
210-day weight (kg)51.853.655.2

Group 1: weaned at 45 days
Group 2: partially weaned at 45 days then suckled after milking for the next 45 days.
Group 3: weaned at 90 days.

Fattening performance of Kivircik lambs was compared with that of Merino in a study by Bayindir et al. (1985). In this study, male lambs weaned at an age of 3 months were put on fattening for 56 days and fed 100 g hay per head/day and a concentrate mixture ad libitum . The results of this fattening trial are shown in Table 6.3. Performances of the two groups were similar.

Table 6.3. Comparative fattening performances of Kivircik and Merino lambs.

TraitsKivircik lambsMerino lambs
Initial weight (kg)1129.32.151128.72.16
Final weight (kg)1144.62.421145.02.81
Average daily gain (g)11274451129248
Hot carcass weight (kg)1122.61.211122.71.73
Cold carcass weight (kg)1022.01.161022.01.72
Dressing percent, (hot)1050.70.981051 .02.08
Dressing percent (cold)1049.41.011049,62.12
Internal fat (kg)100.680.21100.390.17
Full rumen weight (kg)104.900,67104.750.47

Average daily weight gains of early weaned (one month) White Karaman lambs over a fattening period of 84 days varied from 229 g to 245 g, with dressing percentages of 45–48; the corresponding figures for lambs weaned at two months age were 230–242 g and 47–48 percent (Günes et al., 1974). In another study (Eliçin et al., 1976), single-born male White Karaman lambs weaned at two months of age were intensively fattened for 73 days; at the end of the fattening period they reached an average weight of 38.8 kg gaining daily 266 g during the fattening period. Red Karaman and Awassi male lambs, fattened for 84 days at an age of 214 days, gained daily 218 g and 244 g, respectively, in a fattening study at the Atatürk University Farm in Erzurum (Özsoy and Vanli, 1984 b).

Growth performances of White Karaman (Kangal type) and Red Karaman single-born lambs were studied at the Research Farm of Faculty of Veterinary Science in Elaziğ, by Akçapinar and Kadak (1982), under similar conditions (Table 6.4.). Lambs of both breeds showed a good growth performance under the farm conditions.

Table 6.4. Growth performances of White Karaman and Red Karaman lambs.

Age of lambMale lambs (kg)Female lambs (kg)
White Karaman      
90 days1428.61.401123.91,32
120 days1235.51.681129.31.53
180 days1243.02.031135.51.78
Red Karaman      
90 days724.22.151126.60.85
120 days728.22.691130,91.11
180 days537.44.311135.81.32

Comparative fattening performances of Dağliç, White Karaman and Kivircik male lambs were investigated by Akçapinar (1931 a, b and c) at the Lalahan Animal Breeding Research Institute near Ankara. Lambs were brought from different farms and fattened up to 50 kg liveweight at the institute.-The results of this study are summarized in Table 6.5. Dağliç, White Karaman and Kivircik groups reached from 20 kg liveweight to 50 kg liveweight in respectively 148, 106 and .121 days. Amounts of concentrate feed and dry alfalfa consumed per kg liveweight were respectively as follows: Dağliç 5.34 and 2.45 kg, White Karaman 3.66 and 1.70 kg, and Kivircik 4.37 and 2.00 kg. At diferent stages, proportion of fat on the tail was 15.2 – 16.6 percent in Dağliç lambs and 12.5 – 21.7 percent in Akkaraman lambs; Kivircik lambs did not have any fat on the tail. Kivircik carcasses were more fleshy than Dağliç and White Karaman carcasses as judged by MLD area. In general, Akkaraman lambs had the best fattening performance, followed by Kivircik and Dağliç lambs. However, if the amount of fat on the tail is taken into account, the Kivircik seems to have the best fattening performance. Oaglic, Kivircik and White Karaman lambs could be fattened up to 30, 35 and 45 kg leveweight, respectively, with tolerable fat deposition in the carcass.

In other studies, the effects on the fattening performances of lambs of different nutritive ratios (Digestible Crude Protein: Starch Unit), grazing on fresh grass and legume mixtures, ratios of straw and other roughage: in the ration, and feeding urea and ammonium sulphate were investigated (Okuyan et al., 1973; Elicin et al., 1974; özkan, 1976; Erdinc, 1979; Tuncer, 1981; Elicin et al. , 1983; Cangir et al., 1983; Cangir et al., 1984).

The age of lambs at the beginning of the fattening is an important factor affecting fattening performance, feed consumption and feed efficiency. In general, lambs are put to fattening at an age of 1–3 months in western regions of country; in other regions fattening of older lambs (6–8 months) is preferred. Eliçin et al.(1983). reviewing the research work carried out on the nutritional espects of lamb fattening in Turkey, concluded that, under normal management and nutritional conditions, lambs may be weaned at an age of 1 1/2 months of age and put on fettening. They should be fed with a ration containing 12–13 percent crude protein and an enegy content of 600–650 starch units; 20–25 percent of the ration may consist of roughage such as hay or alfalfa hay. Preference of 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 month old lambs to 6–8 month old lambs, and cross-bred lambs to native lambs would be beneficial in respect of profitability of the fettening. Suitable length of fattening would be 56–70 days for young lambs and 42–56 days for 6–8 month-old lambs.

Table 6.5. Fattening performances of Dağliç, White Karaman and Kivircik lambs

TraitsDağliçWhite KaramanKivircik
Initial weight (kg)3820.00.043920.00.044020.00.04
56-day weight (kg)3132.00.283235.80.363234.40.30
112-day weight (kg)1643.40.30850.10.551646.20.70
A.D.G. to 56 days (g)31214-32283-32256-
A.D.G. to 112 days (g)16209-8269-16234-
Days to 30 kg weight3846.40.983936.30.884039.50.95
Days to 40 kg weight2493.51.362470.61.602487.12.62
Days to 50 kg weight8148.23.178105.93.708120.64.33
Dressing percent. at 30 kg745.80.50746.70.60846.40.60
Dressing percent. at 40 kg852.00.70849.90.60850.60.20
Dressing percent. at 50 kg854.80.50855.20.80850.50.40
MLD area (12–13 ribs)         
 at 30 kg (cm2)719.50.81719.71 .06820.31 .03
 at 40 kg (cm2)821.80.76821.51 .04824.91 .01
 at 50 kg (cm2)827.93.59826.70.88829.20.83
Percent meat in leg: at 30 kg761.91.40765.11 .40862.80.80
  at 40 kg856.20.70860.81 .20857.70.80
  at 50 kg852.61.20857.30.70856.80.60
Percent fat in leg: at 30 kg718.81 .20714.01 .20816.80.70
 at 40 kg828.10.90818.11.60825.60.80
 at 50 kg832.91.20826.01.00828.10.60
Percent bone in leg: at 30 kg718.80.50720.10.60819.70.40
 at 40 kg815.50.20821.00.50816.60.30
 at 50 kg814.50.30816.50.50815.20.20
Tai1 fat (in carcass)         
 at 30 kg (percent)715.21 .20712.50.60---
 at 40 kg (percent)816.60.50817.51.10---
 at 50 kg (percent)816.60.50821.70.50---
Kidney fat (in carcass)         
 at 30 kg (percent)71.00.T070.70,1081 .50.10
 at 40 kg (percent)81.70.2080.70.1083.50.50
 at 50 kg (percent)82.10.3080.80.1084.40.30

Other Production Traits: The ranges of mean values given in Sections 5.1.1 – 5.1.11 for body weight, lactation milk yield and wool production characteristics represent performance levels obtained under conditions varying from extensive to semi-intensive, either in the field or on state farms. Under these conditions productivity is generally low. Average body weight after shearing is 40–48 kg in White Karaman, Red Karaman, Awassi and Sakiz ewes, and 35–42 kg in Dağliç, Karakul, Kivircik, Karayaka, Gökçeada (Imroz) and Tuj ewes. Average lactation milk yield (which include the amount suckled by lambs) varies from 90 to 160 kg in Awassi and Sakiz breeds, from 60 to 90 kg in Kivircik and Gökçeada breeds, and from 40–65 kg in the remaining six native breeds. In these native breeds of sheep, average greasy fleece weight is in general between 1.5 kg and 2.0 kg. However, with the possible exception of the Sakiz, these breeds are hardy and resist well to diseases, droughts, scarcity of feed end extreme climatic conditions.

Studies on their production performances under good feeding and management conditions is scanty; however considerable volume of data have been acumulated on the performance under relatively good conditions. The mean values obtained in these studies for body weight, lactation milk yield and greasy fleece weight of ewes are presented in Table 6.6.

Table 6.6. Mean values for body weight, lactation milk yield and greasy fleece weight of ewes of different native breeds under relatively good conditions.

Breednx (kg)S.E. (kg)Source
Body Weight    
White Karaman19755.00.48Yalçin and Aktaş (1969)
 (Kangal)22358.00.44Yalçin and Aktaş (1969)
 28764.70.39Örkiz et al. (1984)
Red Karaman67053.60.31Vanli (1976)
Dağliç73739.70.18Demir (1983)
Awassi69456.30.40Vanli et al.(1984)
 5653.31.25Sönmez et al. (1971)
 6047.11.03Sönmez et al .(1971)
 8551.61.26Yalçin and Aktaş (1969)
Kivircik4049,71.10Sönmez et al.(1976)
Karayaka10044.40.38Özcan (1960)
Sakiz5052.00.98Aritürk and Özcan (1960)
Gbkceada88847.60.15Özcan et al. (1980)
Lactation Milk Yield    
Red Karaman104132.9-Akçapinar et al.(1984)
Dağliç7057,01.9Demir (1983)
Awassi27173.78.9Bulgurlu (1960)
 29211.19.9Bulgurlu and Sevgican (1964)
 162158.0-Sönmez and Wassmuth (1964)
 14202.414.1Yarkin and Öztan (1967)
 18179.58.8Yarkin and Öztan (1967)
 290200,72.9Giirsoy and Özcan (1983)
 271218.81 7Gursoy and Özcan (1983)
Kivircik125119,22.8Yarkin (1956)
 15277.26.2Sönmez and Kizilay (1972)
Sakiz12211.09.6Bulgurlu (1960)
 52205.0-Sönmez and Wassmuth (1964)
Gökçeda118187.24.38Yalçin et al. (1980)
Greasy Fleece Weight    
White Karaman1001.580.04Sandikçioğlu (1960)
Red Karaman2601.890.06Özsoy (1983)
Dağic7412,260.02Demir (1983)
Awassi1522.180.02Yarkin and Eliçin (1966)
 6942.920.05Vanli et al .(1984)
 1052.100.04Yalçin and Aktaş (1969)
Kivircik1501.810.03Yarkin (1956)
Karayaka562.400.07Özcan (1960)
Sakiz6551.820.01Özcan (1965)
Gökçeda2391.890.03Özcan (1965)

Skin follicle populations of the sheep breeds in the country were determined by Batu and Özcan (1962) and Özcan (1965), using skin samples taken from the rib area of the 3-year-old non-pregnant ewes. Mean values for the primary (np), secondary (ns) and total number of foolicles (np+s) per mm2 skin area and number of secondary follicles per primary follicle (ns/p, ) are shown in Table 6.7.

Table 6.7. Mean numbers of skin follicles in different sheep breeds of Turkey (in 1 mm2 skin area)

Breed of SheepNumber of AnimalsnPnsn p+sns/p
White Karaman191.80.1510.51.2712.41.365.70.45
Karakul173.90.2514.91 .3018.81.503.90.19
Turkish Merino212.30.1224.81.4527.11.5210.70.53

The information given in this section (Section 6.1.1) indicates that lambs of Kivircik, White Karaman, Red Karaman and Awassi breeds respond quite well to fattening, and that Awassi, Sakiz and Gökçeda breeds have high milk production potential. Fertility is in general good in all the native breeds; the Sakiz is outstanding in prolificacy. Substantial data are available on the production performance of White Karaman, Awassi, Kivircik and Sakiz breeds. Such information is scanty for the Red Karaman, Dağliç, Karayaka, and Tuj . Further research is needed for a better evaluation of the production potential of the native sheep breeds under extensive, semi-intensive and intensive conditions. Studies of this type will be more informative if groups of two or more breeds are compared under similar conditions.

6.1.2. Improvement Through Purebreeding and Selection

In view of the inadequate feeding and management conditions prevailing in the country purebreeding in the greater portions of native sheep breeds is likely to continue in the future. In a purebreding system, estimates of genetic and phenotypic parameters for different production traits are essential in formulating an effective selection programme and achieving optimum genetic improvement. Repeatabilities and heritabilities estimated for different traits of sheep breeds in the country are presented in Table 6.8.

Repeatability estimates for body weight, wool and milk production traits were high indicating that culling for these traits on the basis of first production year is likely to yield considerable improvement in the subsequent productivity of the flocks. They also indicate that selection for these traits can be based on a single record. Low estimates were found for litter size and lamb weights; they show that performance in the first production year is not a good criterium for culling and selecting for these traits.

Heritability estimates for litter size, birth weight and weaning weight in the Dağliç, Kivircik, Karakul and Merino were low (0.06 – 0.29), while those for body weight in White Karaman and Karacabey Merino, greasy fleece weight in White Karaman, Red Karaman, Dağliç and Merino, and milk production in Awassi were from moderate to hiqh (0.30 – 0.63). They indicate that the rate of progress by selection for prolificacy and lamb growth rate will be slow; but it should be moderate to high for body weight, greasy fleece weight and milk production in the breeds mentioned above.

Table 6.8. Estimates of repeatability and heritability for different production traits of sheep breeds in Turkey.

Breed of sheepEstimate S.E.EstimateS.E.Source
Litter Size     
Awassi0.090.040.330.18Özsoy and Vanli (1984 a)
C. Anatolian Merino0.çin (1972 a)
Birth Weight     
Dağliç0.çn (1969 b)
Dağliç0. (1979)
Awassi--0.080.01Yarkin and Tuncel (1974)
Awassi0.090.040.330.18Özsoy and Vanln (1984 a)
Karakul--0.210.12Özcan (1967)
Kivirnk--0,150.11Özcan (1970 d)
C. Anatolian Merino0.çin et al.(1979 b)
Weaning Weight     
Dağliç0.çin (1969 b)
Dağliç0. (1979)
Awassi--0.050.02Yarkin and Tuncel (1974)
Awassi0.070.040.300.17Özsoy and Vanli (1984 a)
C. Anatolian Merino0.çin et al. (1979 b)
Body Weight     
White Karaman--0.63-Pekel (196P)
Red Karaman0.640.050.270.16Vanli (1983)
Awassi--0,130.02Yarkin and Tuncel (1974)
Karacabey Merino--0.590.09Öznacar (1973)
C. Anatolian Merino0.660,020.130.05Yalçin et al. (1979 b)
Merino0.620.050.110.12Özsoy (1974)
G. Fleece Weight     
White Karaman--0.61-Pekel (1968)
Red Karaman0.530.050.300.17Vanli (1983)
Dağliç--0.600.14Aritürk et al .(1969)
Karacabey Merino--0.390.06Öznacar (1973)
C. Anatolian Merino0.490.030.350.09Yalçm et al .(1979 b)
Merino0.630.050.580.19Özsoy (1974)
Staple Length     
Red Karaman0.550.050.260.16Vanli (1983)
Karacabey Merino--0.160.01Öznacar (1973)
C. Anatolian Merino0.560.020,440.10Yalçin et al.(1979 b)
Merino0.620.050.110.12Özsoy (1974)
Fiber Diameter     
White Karaman--0.39 -Pekel (1968)
Karacabey Merino--0.170.12Öznacar (1973)
C. Anatolian Merino0.510.020.310.08Yalçin et al (1979 b)
Merino0.310.070.130.11Özsoy (1974)
Milk Production     
Red Karaman0.730.040.290.18Vanli (1983)
Awassi--0.500.12Yarkin and Tuncel (1974)

Genetic relationships between various production traits have been studied in White Karaman, Red Karaman, Dağliç, Awassi and Turkish Merino breeds. Genetic correlations among production traits were in general either in the desired direction or non-significant, and showed no evidence of genetic antagonism among different production traits, except between fleece weight and fineness (Pekel, 1968; Öznacar, 1973; Yarkin and Tuncel, 1974; Özsoy, 1974; Evrim, 1979; Yalçin et al. , 1979 b; Vanli, 1983).

The effects of certain measurable environmental factors on various production traits were studied and their magnitudes were estimated in White Karaman (Akçapinar, 1983 b), Red Karaman (Müftüoğlu, 1974; Vanli, 1976; Akçapinar, 1983 b), Dağliç (Yalçin,1969 a; Evrim, 1978 b), Awassi (Özsoy and Vanli, 1984 a) and Merino breeds (Özsoy, 1974; Yalçin et al., 1979 a).

6.1.3. Improvement Through Crossbreeding

Several crossbreeding experiments involving exotic and native sheep breeds have been carried out during the past 50 years. The results of these experiments have already been reviewed (Yalçin, 1977 and 1979), but they are presented here again with some additional information.

Studies concerning the crossbreeding of native sheep breeds with foreign breeds date back to the 1930s; Mutton Merino x Kivircik and Mutton Merino x White Karaman crossbreeding , together with selection, led to the formation of two Turkish Merino types, i.e. Karacabey Merino and Central Anatolian Merino respectively (see Section 5,1.8) (Öznacar, 1973; Müftüoğlu, 1969; Yalçin et al., 1972; Yalçin et al., 1979 a). Crossbreeding between Mutton Merino and White Karaman was also carried out in order to develop a different type of sheep (Malya sheep) with good growth rate and semi-fine wool production (Düzgünes and Pekel, 1968).

One of the aims of this work was to have a productive fat-tailed breed whose rams could mate White Karaman ewes naturally and improvement work in the field could be made ease. This sheep has 35–40 percent Merino and 60–65 percent White Karaman genotype. At present, Malya sheep do not have a significant impact on the White Karaman population.

Experiments (Müftüoğlu, 1974; Yalçin and Müftüoğlu, 1969) carried out at Altindere State Farm, Van, have shown that crossing Red Karaman with Mutton Merino is not likely to produce any improvement in F1 and backcross generations to Merino in lamb growth rate and adult body weight, and that a gradual increase in lamb mortality with increasing Merino genotype is likely; however, F1, and backcross generations were superior to Red Karaman in twinning rate (by 8–10 percent), greasy fleece weight (by 0.5 – 0.6 kg) and wool quality. Better results from this cross-breeding were obtained at the Ataturk University Farm in Erzurum (Özsoy, 1983) ; F1, F2 and backcross generations to Merino (MB1, and MB2) were superior to Red Karaman in birth rate, litter size, and wool production, while lamb survival rate in these groups were slightly lower (Table -6.9.). other studies carried out on the same farm (Çakir et al., 1981; Vanli et al ., 1984) showed the superiority to the Morkaraman of the lambs of different generations in fattening performance, and a heterosis effect in this respect at the F1 generation. It was concluded that Merion genotype could be utilized at a proportion of 50–75 percent in improving different production traits of Red Karaman breed.

Table 6.9. Production performances of Merino (M), Red Karaman (RK) and their crossbreds (F1 , F2, MB1, and MB2)

TraitsGenotypic groups
Lamb Survival      
 to 60 days (percent)85.593.792.490.688.495.2
 to 120 days (percent)78.290.490.786.585.491.8
Lamb Growth (L. S. Constants)      
 Birth weight (kg)
 Weaning weight (88days, kg)21.023.523.922.522.123.5
 12-month weight40.842.042.041.341.940.6
Characteristics of ewes      
 Birth rate (percent)939695939688
 Litter size (at birth)1.301.271.291.321.151.14
 G. Fleece Wt (1st shearing, kg)2.863.132.742.922.601.79

Source : Özsoy (1983).

In 1965, crossbreeding work was started at Ereğli Animal Breeding Research Institute, Konya to investigate the possibilities of using lie de France x White Karaman crossbreeding for commercial lamb production. The project has later been extended to obtain results on F2 and backcross to lie de France (Yalçin and Aktaş, 1976). Table 6.10 summarizes the main results of this experiment. F1 lambs, as well as lambs raised by F2, ewes (F1 and backcross lambs), were superior in growth rate to their purebred comtemporaries. F1ewes showed significant increases in body and fleece weights, milk yield and conception rate over White Karaman. However, in view of the low twinning rate of White Karaman ewes and the inadequate feeding conditions in the region, development of a meat and semi-fine wool type sheep having 60 to 70 percent He de France and 30 to 40 percent White Karaman blood, seems to be more feasible than using commercial crossbreeding between these two breeds.

Table 6.10. Least squares means for production traits of He de France (IF), White Karaman (WK) and their crosses (F1 F2 and IFB1,).

TraitsGenotypic groups
Lamb survival     
No. of lambs born alive4252719996237
No. of lambs at 105 days (weaning)3982629391226
Survival rate to 105 days (percent)9497949595
Lamb growth     
Birth weight (kg)
45-day weight (kg)11.414.215.915.514.0
75-day weight (kg)16.719.822.122.118.9
105-day weight (kg)21.425.127.227.923.6
Characteristics of ewes     
Live weight after shearing (kg)44.047.4-45.242.5
Greasy fleece weight (kg)2.42.8-2.61.6
Lactation milk yield (kg)-87.7--53.5
Birth rate (percent)85.193.1--85.4
Litter size1.181.11-1.13

Source : Yalçin and Aktaş (1976)

The value of lie de France breed in producing crossbred slaughter lambs was also investigated in a study at Lalahan Animal Breeding Research Institute near Ankara, using the ewes of Karacabey Merino and Central Anatolian Merino as the dams of crossbred lambs (Akçapinar, 1974). These Merino types have an avarage litter size around 1.5. Compared with Merino control groups, Ile de France x Karacabey Merino and lie de France x Central Anatolian Merino F1 lambs had significantly heavier liveweights and produced havier carcasses with higher dressing out percentages, higher proportions of meat and lower proportions of fat in the sample joint. Crossbreeding of this type appears to be useful for producing heavier and better quality lambs out of Merino ewes, maintaining at the same time a high level of wool production in the Merino ewe flocks.

Two crossbreeding studies involving the Dağliç breed have been carried out. One of them (Gönül , 1974) was primarily concerned with increasing lamb production by two-way and three-way crossing; the results of this experiment, carried out at Acipayam State Farm, Denizli, are mummarized in Table 6.11. It can be seen that using lie de France rams for terminal crossing has considerable advantage in respect of growth rate and carcass quality. Somewhat higher dressing out percentages of Dağliç, Malya x F1 and Malya x Dağliç lambs are partly associated with extra fat in the tail. The lower survival rate of the lie de France x F1 group was attributed partly to the higher proportion of triplets in this group. Crossing Dağliç sheep with Sakiz, a prolific and milky breed, incerased the twinning rate about, 30 percent in F1 ewes. One difficulty was that, semi-fat-tailed Sakiz rams had difficulty in mating naturally with fat-tailed Dağliç ewes.

Table 6.11. Growth rate and carcass quality of lambs in two-way and three-way crossbreeding involving the Dağliç breed

Traits studiedDağliçF1MxF1IFxF1MaxF1MaxDağliç
Birth weight (kg),23.4
120-day weight (kg)17.418.020.321 .920.019.0
180-day weight (kg)22.022.628.729.527.423.9
Survival to 180 days (percent)959611609185
Carcass score (50 points)34-40464040
Dressing percentage50.9-47.449.450.749.8
MLD area (cm2)6.4-

F1, : Sakiz x Dağliç,
M: Merino,
Ma: Malya (see p. 101),
IF: Ile de France

Source : Günül (1974)

The aim of the second crossbreeding project was to investigate the possibility of improving meat and wool production of Dağliç sheep by crossing with the American Rambouillet (Yalçin et al, 1977; Yalçin and Ayabakan, 1977). The results of this study, carried out at. Çifteler State Farm, Eskişehir, are summarized in Table 6.12. F1 lambs and lambs out of F1 ewes (i.e. F1 and RB1 lambs) had significantly better growth rate than the lambs of either parental breed. Survival rate of lambs was very high in Dağliç and all crossbred groups. Ewes of all crossbred groups had significantly higher liveweight.s and greasy fleece weights than Dağliç RB1 ewes produced good quality apparel wool comparable to that in Ramboui1 let. All groups were raised extensively, and nutrition level was approximately equal to that generally provided in the field. These results have led to the conclusion that the productivity of the Dağliç breed could be successfully increased by crossbreeding with Rambouillet, and that this could be achieved most effectively by developing a meat-wool sheep which has 30 to 35 percent Dağliç and 65 to 70 percent Rambouillet blood. This new type has since been developed at Çifteler State Farm under the name of Ramliç (See Plates 22, 23, 24).Mean values for different production traits of Ramliç sheep were reported by Yalçin (1982 b) as follows: Body weight of ewes at mating 49.0 kg, lactation milk yield 72.6 kg, greasy fleece weight 3.01 kg, fiber diameter 22.1 micron, staple length 7.2 cm, birth rate 92.1 percent, twinning rate 10.8 percent, survival rate of lambs to weaning 93.3 percent, and weights of female lambs at birth, 4 months and 15 months 4.1, 26.2 and 39.4 kg, respectively.The rams of "amlic sheep have been included in the IA programmes for upgrading some Dağliç flocks in the region.

Table 6.12. Least squares means for production characteristics of American Rambouillet (R), Dağliç (D) and their crosses (F1 F2 and RB1)

 Genotypic groups
Traits studiedRF1F2RB1D
Lamb survival     
No. of lambs born alive50225465706342
No, of lambs at 120 days     
Survival rate to 120 days     
Lamb growth     
Birth weight (kg)
60-day weight (kg)15.214.515.215.613.6
120-day weight (kg)24.125,126.526.723.0
180-day weight1) (kg)25.928.129.029025.1
Characteristics of ewes     
Live weight at mating (kg)47.946,044.244.939.5
Greasy fleece weight (kg)2.72.52,52.52.0
Fibre diameter (micron)22.125.625,023.528.8
Staple length (cm),820.4
Medullated fibres (percent)0.182.700.690.304.61
Birth rate (percent)7688808688
Litter size1.061.031 001.011 00

1) Female lambs only.

Source : Yalçin et. al. (1977); Yalçin and Ayabakan (1977).

Two European sheep breeds, East Friesian and Texel, have been used recently in experimental crossing with the Kivircik (see Tables 6.13 and 6.14). Results of the East Friesian x Kivircik crossbreeding experiment have shown that milk production and litter size of East. Friesian x Kivircik F ewes were significantly higher than in Kivircik ewes. Increases in growth rate were somewhat lower (Sönmez et al., 1976). These results have been obtained in the very favourable feeding and management conditions of the Tahirova Turkish-German Farm at Gönen, Balikesir, Özcan (1970 c), working in a well-managed private farm, reported mature body weights of 38.1 kg. 50.1 kg 56.6 kg and 69.9 kg for Kivircik, EF x K, EFB-, and EFB? ewes, respectively. However, it is difficult to reach any conclusion as to the success of this crossbreeding under the general feeding and management conditions of the region. The general experience is that survival rate of lambs and ewes may be lowered markedly if East Friesian blood exceeds 50 percent. The work at Tahirova has been extended to develop a new type of sheep (Tahirova sheep) with better milk production and prolificacy than that in the Kivircik (Sönmez et al., 1981).

Table 6.13. Results of East Friesian x Kivircik crossbreeding

 Genotypic group
Traits studiedKF1F2EFB1
Lamb survival    
No. of lambs born alive185202113218
Survival rate to 75 days94969188
Lamb growth    
Birth weight (kg)
60-day weight (kg)
Weaning weight (kg)    
(75 days)22.723.823.124.8
180-day weight (kg)
Characteristics of ewes    
Live weight at shearing (kg)49.755.548.356.3
Greasy fleece weight (kg)
Lactation milk yield (liter)6315784196
Lactation length (day)140204165246
Birth rate (percent)85867979
Litter size1.141.451.521.57

EFB1: Backcross to East Friesian

Source : Sönmez et al . (1976)

The results of Texel x Kivircik crossbreeding, carried out at Inanli Animal Breeding Research Institute, are given in Table 6.14. The general outcome of this crossbreeding was a slight increase in lamb growth rate and considerable decreases in conception rate and lamb survival rate with increasing Texel blood (Özcan and Aki, 1973, 1974 a, 1974 b; Özcan, 1975). A parallel project carried out' at Türkgeldi State Production Farm (also in Thrace Region) gave similar results and showed some advantage in growth rate and carcass quality of crossbred lambs (Sancan et al. , 1973; Sönmez et al ., 1977); however, there was great difficulty in maintaining the pure Texel flock during the summer due to hot weather and blood parasites. All of the 50 ewes originally imported to Türkgeldi Farm were lost within two years of the importation. The Texel was also crossed with the Turkish Merino (Karacabey type) at Bandirma Merino Breeding Farm in Balikesir to study the possibilities of improving growth rate, prolificacy and milk production of the latter; crossbred generations failed to show any significant superiority over Merino control groups in any of the traits studied (İmeryüz, 1979). The pure Texel flock on this farm had been maintained with great difficulty during the 6-year experimental period. In view of the above results it can be concluded that using the Texel breed has little to offer in the improvement of Kivircik sheep in Thrace Region and of Turkish Merino in southern Marmara Region under the existing conditions, and that there will be great health limitations in keeping pure Texel flocks in these regions.

Table 6.14. Results of Texel x Kivircik crossbreeding experiment

  Genotypic groups
Traits studiedYearKF1F2KB1TB1
Lamb survival:      
No. of lambs born alive1973171124349135
Survival rate to 90 days19739997919494
Survival rate to 180 days19739794828886
Lamb growth:      
Birth weight (kg)19734.
90-day weight (kg)197318.821.619.518.821.1
180-day weight (kg)197324.
Characteristics of ewes:      
Body weight at shearing (kg)      
18 months 32.034.731.432.731.3
30 months
Greasy fleece weight (kg)      
18 months 1.221.401.271.301.39
30 months 1.371.901.421.391.86
Fibre diameter (micron) 30.129.329.330.028.8
Staple length (cm)
Medullated fibres (percent) 0.390.320.600.350.37
Lactation milk yield (kg)      
1st Tact. 81.079.9---
2nd Tact. 82.481.0---
Conception rate (percent) 8980757871
Litter size

K: Kivircik,
KB1: Backcross to Kivircik,
TB1 : Backcross to Texel

1) Female singles

Source: Özcan (1975)

Results of a study carried out at Ereğli Animal Breeding Research Intitute, Konya, showed that milk production of the White Karaman could be greatly increased by crossing this breed with the native Awassi; average milk yield of F1 ewes was significantly higher than that of White Karaman (40 – 77 kg v. 79 – 124 kg) and even than that of Awassi contemporaries (75 – 117 kg) (Yalçin and Aktaş, 1971). Milk production of the native Awassi itself could not be improved by mating native Awassi ewes with the rams of Israeli Awassi, in an investigation carried out at Ceylanpinar State Farm, Urfa (Özcan, 1983). At the first two lactations in two years, average lactation milk yields varied from 142 kg to 180 kg for the first generation ewes and from 130 kg to 170 kg for the contemporary native Awassi ewes; average lactation lengths for the two groups were 168–173 days and 162–173 days, respectively. Differences between genotypic groups were not significant for both of the traits. The work is being continued to make these comparisons under better feeding and management conditions.

6.2. Research on Goat Production

6.2.1. Research on Angora Goats

Considerable volume of information is available on the production performance of Angora Goats in Turkey. In addition, phenotypic and genetic parameters for the important production traits have been estimated. A brief account of research work carried out on Angora goats in Turkey is presented in this section.

Reproduction : The reproductive performance of Angora goats have been studied on the flocks at Lalahan Animal Breeding Research Institute, near Ankara, and at Çifteler State Farm in Eskişehir. Percentage of does kidding, number of kids born per 100 does mated and number of kids raised per 100 does mated are respectively 89.8, 94.0 and 86.1 for mature does (2 1/2 years old and older) at Lalahan; corresponding figures for Çifteler flock are 85.2, 86.1 and 82.8. Reproductive performance in young does (1 1/2 years old) is low, the number of kids born per 100 does mated being 63.1 and 28.9 for Lalahan and Çifteler flocks, respectively (See Section 5.2.1). Young does also have higher kid mortalities (15.0 and 7.1 percent) than mature does (8.4 and 3.9 percent). Twinning rate in these flocks is 0–5 percent (Yalçin, 1982 a). A low level of twinning rate has been established under the generally poor feeding and management conditions of Central Anatolia; twin births are generally undesirable in the Angora goat flocks in this country. The above results, obtained under rather extensive conditions, show that reproductive performance is good in mature does but low in young does.

There is some evidence that the low reproductive performance of young does is associated with inadequate nutrition up to the first mating age (18 months) and with the low body weight at this age. İmeryliz and Köseoĝlu (1980) studied the effect of the level of nutrition on the reproductive performance of young does (1 1/2 years old) at Çifteler in three groups raised with different levels of nutrition. All groups were grazed from April to Nowember. In addition, Group 1 received hay during grazing season and hay + concentrate during winter, Group 2 received hay 4-concentrates during winter, and Group 3 received hay only during winter. In Groups 1, 2 and 3 average body weights at the first mating (18 months) were 27.2, 19.1 and 18.9 kg, respectively; corresponding birth rates were 83.5, 20.0 and 18.0 percent, indicating the favourable effects of level of nutrition and higher body weight on the reproduction at 18 months of age.

Growth Rate : Growth rate of kids up to the yearling stage is important, because it is positively related to survival rate, adult body weight and subsequent performance. On the other hand a favourable adult size in does is desired for a good reproductive performance and for better growth and survival of the kids. On the average, female kids weigh 2.3 kg, 14.7 kg and 18.8 kg at birth, weaning (4 1/2 months) and 12 months, respectively. Average body weight of does at shearing (April) is 29.1 kg (See Section 5.2.1). Although there are no data on the weights of Angora goats in producer flocks, they are likely to have lighter body weights, due to relatively lower level of nutrition in these flocks. For Angora goats in Texas, average 4-month, 12-month and adult body weights of females were reported to be 19.3 kg, 23.2 kg and 37.7 kg, respectively (Shelton, 1965; Shelton and Basset, 1970). These figures show that, Angora goats in Turkey have considerably slower growth rate and lighter adult body weight as compared to those in Texas.

Mohair Traits : The levels of the important fleece traits of Angora goats in Lalahan flock and in randomly selected flocks belonging to the producers in six provinces are presented in Section 5.2.1. Mean values for yearling females and breeding does at Lalahan are 1.49 kg and 2.96 kg for greasy fleece weight, 1.08 kg and 2.11 kg for clean fleece weight, 72.2 percent and 71.5 percent for mohair yield, 15.6 cm and 16.4 cm for staple length and 26.0 micron and 35.8 micron for fiber diameter, respectively. Fleeces of breeding does are approximately twice as heavy as those of yearling females. As compared to Lalahan flock, goats in producers flocks has much lower mean greasy fleece weight and staple length, mean values for these traits in the latter being 0.94 kg and 1.59 kg, and 12.4 cm and 13.8 cm, for yearling females and breeding does, respectively. However, average mohair yield is higher in the producers flocks (78.8 percent and 77.0 percent for the two respective groups).

The mean levels of fleece traits of yearling females and breeding does in the producers flocks in Texas were found as follows: greasy fleece weight 3.57 and 5.39 – 5.57 kg, clean fleece weight 2.66 and 4.17 – 4.21 kg, staple length 26.7 and 24.1 – 24.9 cm, fiber diameter 26.7 and 33.2 – 36.1 micron and mohair yield 78.0 and 76.0 – 78.0 percent, respectively (Basset, 1966).

The above mean values for greasy fleece weight, clean fleece weight and staple length are annual figures obtained by summing the mean values for two shearings in a year. Similar levels were reported for the same fleece traits of Angora goats in South Africa. It appears that much higher levels in fleece weight and staple length are realized in the U.S.A. and in South than in Turkey. There is some evidence that these higher levels are due to some extent to the practice of twice-a-year shearing in these two countries; İmeryüz and Sincer (1967) reported that mean levels of these fleece traits could be increased by 10 to 20 percent at different ages by shearing the goats twice instead of once in a year. Sincer (1962), in a preliminary study at Lalahan Animal Breeding Research Institute, Ankara, found mean greasy fleece weights of 3.31 kg and 2.62 kg, respectively, for the progeny groups of American and local Angora bucks, indicating that part of the apparent superiority of American goats to those in Turkey in respect of fleece weight is genetic. Nutritional, climatic and managemental factors may also be involved in causing these differences. At present, a comprehensive study (Horst and Yalçin, unpublished) is being carried out at Çifteler State farm for investigating the nature of the differences between American and Turkish stock in various production traits.

Possibilities of Improvement Through Selection : The amount of genetic progress expected from selecting for a set of traits in a livestock population depends on the levels of genetic and phenotypic parameters for these traits. Repeatabilities and heritabilities obtained for the various traits of Angora goats at Lalahan are presented in Table 6.15.

Table 6.15. Repeatabilities and heritabilities of various production traits of Angora goats.

Birth Weight0.
Weaning Weight0.330.040.170.04
Body Weight0.620.020.240.07
Greasy Fleece Weight0.400.020.130.06
Clean Fleece Weight0.490.020.120.06
Staple Length0.350.020.120.06
Fiber Diameter0.720.010.190.07
Mohair yield0.640.020.430.10

Source : Yalçin et al.(1979).

Repeatability values for body weight, greasy and clean fleece weights, fiber diameter and yield are high (from 0.40 to 0.72), and those for birth weight, veaning weight and staple length are of moderate sizes (from 0.27 to 0.35), They indicate that first-year record, particularly for the first group of traits, is a good measure for the future performance; therefore, keeping the animals with high performance in their first year is likely to improve the performance of the flock in the subsequent years. They also indicate that selection for fleece and body traits can be based on the yearling record. On the other hand, with the exception of mohair yield, heritability estimates for the same traits are low (from 0.12 to 0.24), indicating that improving them with direct indivudual selection is likely to be a slow process in Lalahan flock and similarly managed flocks. However, these low heritability values also indicate that the major body and fleece traits may respond to the improvements in the environment, especially in feeding and management.

Phenotypic correlations among the important traits of Angora goats are, with few exceptions, positive and statistically significant; however, only a small number of them are high enough to be of any practical significance (Table 6.16). Greasy fleece weight is strongly correlated with clean fleece weight (r = 0.84); its relationship with fiber diameter and staple length is low (r = 0.14 and 0.34, respectively). The phenotypic correlations in Table 6.16 indicate that phenotypic superiority of the replacement females for any one of the traits studied will be accompanied with higher levels for the most of the other tr aits in the flock; any increase in the level of the fiber diameter of course means a loss of fiber fineness.

Table 6.16. Phenotypic and genotypic correlations among various production traits of Angora goats.

Pairs of Traits StudiedPhenotypic
Body Weight  
 - Greasy Fleece Weight0.190.17
 - Clean Fleece Weight0.220.25
 - Mohair Yiled0.070.33
 - Fiber Diameter0.260.14
 - Staple Length0.050.24
Greasy Fleece Weight  
 - Clean Fleece Weight0.840.68
 - Mohair Yield-0.18-0.33
 - Fiber Length0.14-0.28
 - Staple Length0.340.39
Clean Fleece Weight  
 - Mohair Yield0.200.43
 - Fiber Diameter0.20-0.05
 - Staple Length0.430.96
Mohair Yield  
 - Fiber Diameter0.140.27
 - Staple Length0.220.68
Fiber Diameter  
 - Staple Length0.200.01

Source : Yalçin et al. (1979).
. P / 0.05,
. P / 0.01.

Genotypic correlations between the yearling body weight and important fleece traits of Angora goats at Lalahan were found between the positive but non-significant values of 0.14 and 0.33. Significant and strong genotypic relationships were found to exist between greasy and clean fleece weights (r = 0.68), between clean fleece weight and yield (r = 0.43), between staple length and yield (r = 0.68) and between clean fleece weight and staple length (r z 0.96). The genetic correlations among the various traits of Angora goats at Lalahan are in general in the desired direction, this indicating that selecting for any one of these traits either will increase or will not affect significantly the levels of the other traits.

The possibility of improving fleece traits of Angora goats by selecting on skin follicle characteristics was studied in Lalahan flock (Yalçin, 1972; Yalçin et al., 1979). It was found that primary, secondary and total number of follicles per unit skin area (npns and np+s) are positively but non-significantly associated with greasy and clean fleece weights, fiber diameter and mohair yield, genetic correlations varying from 0.05 to 0.33. Genetic correlations between follicle numbers per unit skin area and staple length were negative and statistically significant (-0.57 and -0.58 with ns and np+s, respectively). The number of secondary follicles per primary follicle (ns/p) had positive genetic relationship with clean fleece weight (r = 0.84) (Table 6.17). Heritability of ns/p ratio was found to be higher (0.52) than those for clean fleece weigth (0.12) and fiber diameter (0.19) (Table 6.15). These results indicate that follicle numbers per unit skin area are of little value in overall fleece improvement, but ns/p ratio measured at 5 months of age may be used as a criterion for early and indirect selection for fiber fineness; such a selection is also expected to yield some genetic improvement in clean fleece weight.

Table 6.17. Phenotypic and genetic correlations between skin folicle characteristics and mohair traits

FleeceFollicle Characteristics
 Phenotypic Correlations
Greasy F. Weight-0.05-0.05-0.040.02
Clean F. Weight-0.04-0.06-0.06-0.01
Mohair Yield-0.04-0.01-0.01-0.05
Fiber Diameter-0.09-0.20-0.200.09
Staple Length-0.09-0.11-0.11-0.01
 Cenotypic Correlations
Greasy F. Weight0.
Clean F. Weight0.420.330.370.33
Mohair Yield0.090.140.15-0.10
Fiber Diameter0.130.090.05-0.84
Staple Length-0.52-0.57-0.58-0.22

Source : Yalçin (1972), Yalçin et al.(1979)

. P / 0.05,
. P / 0.01.

Although the above discussion points to the small genetic variations and to slow genetic progress in the body and fleece traits of Angora goats on a within-flock basis, prospect for progress is better on a between-flock basis. Genetic superiority of the elite Angora goat flocks at the state farms may be disseminated through to the producers' flocks, in a stratification system involving the transfer of bucks from elite flocks to breeders' flocks and from these flocks to producers' flocks.

There is also some evidence that the efficiency of this system can be increased by improving further the production levels in elite flocks and breeders' flocks through the introduction of good quality bucks from other strains (i.e. from American and South African flocks). Such an introduction is also likely to increase the genetic variation in various production traits and the selection response in these traits. There points are being investigated in a study at çifteler State Farm.

6.2.2. Research Involving Hair Goats and Milk Breeds

The damage caused by the hair goats to forest growth is well known, and the need for reducing the goat numbers particularly in forest areas, is generally acknowledged. During the past 25 years, several measures have been taken by the government for realizing this. For socio-economic reasons however hair goats still constitute over 80 percent of the goat population in the country (i.e. 13.6 million heads in 1983). A significant proportion of the rural population in and around forests and woodlands depend for their livelihood on these goats. They provide meat, milk and hair to their owners at minimum cost.

One way of reducing hair goat numbers in some regions may be improving their productivity by crossing them with suitable milk breeds, so that the same amount of milk and meat can be obtained from smaller number of improved goats. Research work involving hair goats and milk breeds has recently been reviewed by Tuncel and Bayindir (1983). A brief account of research work on these goat breeds is given below.

Studies carried out at the Aegean University Farm have shown that, by crossing hair goats with Maltese and Saanen breeds, crossbred generations with high milk production and litter size can be obtained (Şengonca et al., 1970; Sönmez, 1974). In the study by Şengonca et al.(1970), average lactation milk yield was found to be 247 – 310 kg in Maltese x Hair F does and 298 – 317 kg in Saanen x Hair backcross generation (SB-1,); average litter size at the first two kiddings were 1.33 – 2.11 and 1.41 – 1.71 in these groups, respectively.

Hair, Kilis and Saanen x Kills backcross (SB-1) does were mated with SB-1bucks at Çukurova University Farm in Adana (Özcan, 1977); mean values obtained for milk production traits in pure and crossbred groups are given in Table 6.18. Considering the above results together with body weight and reproduction data, it was concluded that SB1x Kilis and SB1x Hair cross goats could be used as base material for developing new goat types in Çukurova Region.

Table 6.18. Mean lactation milk yield and lactation length in pure and crossbred groups of goats

Genotypic L. Milk Yield (kg)Lactation Length (day)
SB1(SB1 x SB1)19335.122.75222.36.34
F1(SB1 x Hair)8297.033.65238.011.85
F1(SB1 x Kilis)9256.115.71236.39.42

Source: Özcan (1977).
. First lactation.

A crossbreeding experiment involving Saanen and native Kilis goats was initiated in 1961 at the Agricultural Faculty of Ankara. In Kilis, F1and SB1groups, survival of kids to 6 months were 92.4, 95.2 and 95.3 percent in that order (Eker and Tuncel , 1973), while mean lactation milk yields of Saanen x Kilis F1and SB1goats were respectively 710 kg and 718 kg in lactation periods of 293 days and 295 days (Eker et al ., 1977). The flock was closed at that stage and matings between SB1bucks and F1and SB1does were carried out for the development of a new goat type (Akkeci or White Goat). A flock of Akkeci was also established at Dalaman State Farm in Muğla . Mean values for different production traits of Akkeçi at Dalaman over a period of four years were found as follows: pregnancy rate 98.3 percent, litter size 1.79, survival rate of kids to 5 months 97.5 percent, lactation milk yield 820–960 kg and lactation length 295–297 days. (Eker et al., 1975 b).

Purebred performances of native and imported milk goats have been tested in a limited number of studies. Mean values for lactation milk yield, lactation length, milk fat and body weight of Kilis does at Agricultural Faculty of Ankara were respectively 372 kg, 260 days, 4.4 percent and 40 kg (Eker et al., 1975 a; average lactation milk yield, lactation length and litter size of Kilis goats at Regional Research Station in Antalya were 566 kg, 222 days and 1.54 in that order (Tuncel et al.,1976). The Saanen and improved German White goat appear to have good adaptation ability in the Aegean Region (Sönmez et al., 1970; Şengonca et al., 1974).

6.3. Problems and Future Resarch Requirements

With the mecanization of agriculture and the increased use of fertilizers since 1950's, large areas formerly used for grazing sheep and goats and part of the marginal lands have been brought under cultivation. During the same period animal numbers increased more than 50 percent. The heavy pressure on the grazing land resulted in lower output per animal and degradation of range forages. The problem is difficult to overcome, because the rangelands are generally common property. Legislative measures, such as controlling animal numbers and limiting grazing periods, are needed for a better rangeland management and for attempting to improve the quality of range forages.

The pressure on the rangelands may be relieved to some extent by transferring young slaughter animals to arable crop producing areas for fattening. The level of nutrition in sheep and goats in these areas can be improved by including in the rotation alfalfa, sainfoin and vetches. At present a project is being implemented by the government to encourrage farmers to grow forage crops during the fallow periods. Research may be useful for determining the most suitable forage crops to be grown in different regions.

In the western Anatolia and Thrace, the majority of lambs are weaned at as early as one and a half months of age and most of them are slaughtered at that age without further fattening. The chief reason for this is to milk mothers longer to obtain more marketable milk. In this way, meat production potential of these lambs is poorly utilized. The weight of the carcass from such lambs is about 6–8 kg. However, the cow milk production in these regions is increasing rapidly, and labour for milking sheep is becoming more expensive and difficult to obtain. Therefore, weaning the lambs at later ages and/or fattening them soon after they are weaned may be more economical in the near future. Further research is needed for providing information on the weight gains of lambs weaned at different ages, and on the fattening performances of lambs fed under different regimes and for differenet durations.

The great majority of the sheep population in Turkey consists of sheep of native breeds. Under the existing feeding and management conditions their production levels are generally low. At best, only a relatively small portion of this sheep population can be improved through crossbreeding with high-producing exotic breeds. In view of the inadequate feeding and management conditions prevailing in the country purebreeding in the greater portions of native sheep breeds is likely to continue in the future. The information given in the previous sections shows that substantial data are available on the performance of White Karaman, Kivircik, Awassi and Sakiz breeds. Such information is limited for the Karayaka, Red Karaman, Dağliç, Gökçeda and Tuj. Studies on the productivity of these breeds under improved conditions will be helpful for a better evaluation of their potentialities.

Although the information on the genetic parameters in different breeds is scanty, available estimates indicate that some improvement through selection can be expected in growth rate, and even more in body weight, milk production and wool production. Main limiting factors in this respect are the lack of stratification within the breeds, lack of recording in the field and number of characteristics to be considered. Establishing nucleus flocks in the field, in addition to those at the state farms, may be useful in creating stratification in the breeds and in disseminating the genetic improvements gained in these nucleus flocks to other flocks by the sale of rams. Such an arrangement is particularly important for the Awassi, Kivircik and Merino breeds.

As far as crossbreeding is concerned, priority will be for the extension of Merino x White Karaman and Merino x Dağliç crossbreeding in the form of upgrading, and for the formation of new meat-wool types. Results of Rambouillet x Dağliç and He de France x White Karaman crossbreeding experiments are encouraging for the formation of more productive sheep types. Having a diversity of thin-tailed sheep in Central Anatolia can be useful also in meeting the future requirements of the market more effectively. Once the breeding of meat-wool types is well established in Central Anatolia, both in terms of number of sheep and level of production, some of the ewes of these types may be used as dams of crossbred slaughter lambs sired by rams of meat breeds. Studies with the Central Anatolian Merino show that litter size at birth of older ewes is about 1.6(Yalçin et al, 1972), and crossing these ewes with He de France rams results in lambs with better growth rate and carcass quality (Akçapinar, 1974). Such a scheme will permit the production of quality wool from the mother ewes and more and better quality meat from their crossbred progeny.

Although crossing White Karaman and Red Karaman ewes with Mutton Merino rams, White Karaman ewes with lie de France rams and Dağliç ewes with Rambouillet rams produced F1lambs with better growth rate and carcass quality and F1ewes with better lamb production as compared to parental breeds, exploitation of hybrid vigour in both cases is difficult in the field because of the following limitations: (1) twinning rate in White Karaman, Red Karaman and Dağliç ewes is low,(2) the use of A.I. is necessary as natural mating between exotic rams and native ewes is almost impossible because of the fat tail of the latter, and (3) feeding and management level in most native flocks is not sufficiently high to support a rapid growth and a good survival rate among crossbred lambs. In inland regions grading up and type fixation is therefore more feasible. In addition to Merino, other breeds for the improvement of Red Karaman in Eastern Anatolia will be worth trying; these may include breeds like He de France, Ramboui11et and Traghee.

The Kivircik breed is well adapted to the present feeding and management conditions in Thrace and Marmara Regions and, as mentioned earlier, lambs show, with better nutriton, a fairly rapid weight gain during the first 5–7 months of age. The quality of Kivircik meat is considered the best among local and imported breeds. However, the regions in which this breed is raised are among those best suited for crop production. Therefore, sheep in these regions have to compete with field crops. Success in this competition will largely depend on the intensification of sheep breeding. Studies to be undertaken in the near future in this breed should be directed to obtain more kilograms of lamb per ewe. Therefore, improving prolificacy and milk yield of Kivircik sheep by crossing with such breeds as Finnish, Romanov, East Friesian and Sakiz in different combinations may be an important research objective with this breed. According to the results of such studies part of the Kivircik population can be transformed into a fertile and milky female line, to be crossed in the future with terminal meat breeds to produce good quality slaughter lambs. For the time being two-way commercial cross-breeding between Kivircik and meat breeds, such as Ile de France, may also give satisfactory results, provided that prolificacy of Kivircik ewes can be improved by some management practices, such as flushing; these points deserve attention as short-term research objectives.

The Awassi is the milk breed of the semi-arid southeastern Anatolia; it has a high milkyield and good growth rate. There is evidence that higher levels can be reached by better nutrition. Therefore, improving milk production and growth rate of the breed by purebreeding and selection may be a sound approach in the future.

With their very small population sizes, the contribution of Gökçeda and Sakiz breeds to the milk and meat production of the country is negligible. The best breeding policy in these breeds in the future will be keeping their purity and improving their production characteristics through selection. The Sakiz breed, in particular, may play an important role in the sheep production of the country in producing prolific and milky crossbred dams through crossbreeding with other native breeds.

Available estimates of heritabilities for different production traits of Angora goats in Turkey are generally small, indicating small genetic variations in these traits and slow rates of improvement from selecting for them within the flocks. Greater genetic differences may be present between flocks and between strains. Such differences may be exploited for improving the productivity of the breed in a stratified breeding system. Therefore, studies aimed at comparing production levels of different flocks (elite flocks and field flocks) and of different strains (Turkish, American and South African) may yield valuable information. Genetic superiority of good quality bucks in the elite flocks may be disseminated to producers' flocks more extensively by the use of A.I.; this requires studies for successful freezing of Angora buck semen. Research is also needed for investigating the effect of level of nutrition during the first year of life or at critical periods (before mating and before kidding) on the subsequent fertility, and mohair production of the does and on the growth and survival rates of kids.

Production performances of the other goat breeds in the country have been investigated in a limited number of studies. They involved hair, Kilis, Malta and Saanen goats and their crosses, and were carried out under farm conditions. Little is known about the production levels of Gürcü and Abaza goats. Studies on the production performances of hair, Kilis, Gürcü and Abaza goats in their respective habitats will be useful for evaluating better the production potential and economic importance of these breeds.

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