S.I. Semyonov and I.I. Selkin
Domesticated sheep are raised in all agricultural areas of the USSR, the major sheep raising regions being the Ukraine and south European Russia, Central Asia, and southern Siberia. On a smaller scale sheep are raised in central and northwest European Russia; they are practically nonexistent in northern Siberia and the Far East.
The wide geographical distribution of sheep and the variety of the environmental conditions where they were kept in the past have resulted in the emergence of a multitude of sheep breeds adapted to these conditions. There are more than 60 breeds and breed groups in the USSR today, which differ in morphological and productive characteristics. All of them (except the Oparino, the Tsigai and the coarsewooled breeds) were developed during the Soviet era.
The work of developing new breeds was carried out on the basis of local coarsewooled sheep by crossing them with or grading them to improved finewooled and semifinewooled breeds. As a result such breeds as the Voloshian, Mikhnov, Bozakh, Karabakh, Shirvan and Darvaz have almost disappeared. The Mikhnov and Shirvan merit conservation. The following breeds are also reduced to small numbers and need to be preserved in conservation flocks: Georgian Fat-tailed Finewool,. Georgian Semifinewool Fat-tailed and Kuchugury.
The number of sheep in recent years has varied from 142 to 146 million. On 1 January 1980 it was 141.6 m including 116 m publicly owned and 25.6 m privately owned. The public establishments had 85.9 m purebreds and 30.1 m grades. The monograph describes the 52 chief breeds totalling 76.2 m. It does not include native breeds present in small numbers and breeds under formation (8 breeds totalling 4.5 m sheep) and 7 imported breeds (5.2 m).
The most popular classification of breeds in the USSR is the one suggested by M.F. Ivanov, which takes into account the major production characteristics, i.e. the quality of wool and the relation of meat production to that of wool (see Table 4.1). In terms of numbers and productivity the finewooled sheep rank first, followed by semifinewooled, coarsewooled, and semicoarsewooled breeds.
Table 4.1 CLASSIFICATION AND NUMBERS OF BREEDS
|I. FINEWOOLED BREEDS|
|1. Wool breeds:|
|2. Wool-mutton type:|
|North Kazakh Merino||1006||568|
|South Kazakh Merino||2563||2508|
|3. Mutton-wool type:|
|Georgian Fat-tailed Finewool||2||2|
|II. SEMIFINEWOOLED BREEDS|
|1. Wool-mutton type:|
|Georgian Semifinewool Fat-tailed||2||2|
|2. Mutton-wool type:|
|a. Longwool type:|
b. Shortwool type:
c. Corriedale type:
North Caucasus Mutton-wool
III. SEMICOARSEWOOLED BREEDS
IV. CQARSEWOOLED BREEDS
|1. Pelt type:|
|2. Fur type:|
|Karakul||12 432||11 968|
|3. Mutton-fat type:|
|4. Mutton-wool type:|
|5. Mutton-wool-milk type:|
The figures in Table 4.1 refer only to purebred and grade animals on state and collective farms and other state institutions; they omit sheep on private holdings (breeds marked with an asterisk) as well as scrub and castrated animals.
Breeding work depends on a farm's specialization. Breeding farms produce replacement stock for pedigree and commercial flocks. Commercial farms produce wool and mutton.
Breeding centres outline breeding targets and policies for a particular breed. They use pure breeding with selection and inbreeding. Commercial farms use both pure breeding and crossbreeding. There are 1500 breeding stations, breeding sovkhozes and breeding farms of kolkhozes and sovkhozes in the country.
The category decides the percentage of sheep to be evaluated. It is 45-50% at the breeding centres, 35-40% on breeding farms and 25-30% on commercial farms. The objective of the evaluation is to sort the sheep into classes for selection and differential feeding.
The evaluation includes development, constitution, exterior and wool quality. The most valuable stock such as breeding rams and ewes are judged individually and classed as elite, 1st class, 2nd class, 3rd class or cull. Others are judged as a group.
The State Flockbook lists only purebred rams and ewes of the elite class and two years old and older which are by a sire of the elite class (top stud) and out of a dam of the first class or above (single stud). The animals entered in the Flockbook must have a good conformation, strong constitution, good health, and high fertility.
About 80% of ewes are artificially inseminated. Rams are progeny tested.
The Grozny is a most valuable breed developed during 1929-50 at Chervlennye Buruny breeding centre in the Dagestan ASSR which is located in an extremely arid part of the Nogai steppe.
According to the breed regionalization plan, the Grozny is raised in steppe areas of the Dagestan, Kalmyk and Checheno-Ingush ASSRs and in Stavropol territory and Astrakhan region of the Russian Federation.
The breed is based on purebred Australian Merinos imported in 1929. In addition, ewes of the Novocaucasian and Mazaev Merino breeds were repeatedly crossed with Australian rams until crosses were obtained which met the desired standards and these were used in the same way as the Australian Merino.
The breed was developed in order to obtain animals of the wool type but stronger, with a greater live weight and wool clip, and well adapted to semi-desert conditions. The animals which did not meet the desired standards were mated with the Australian Merino or with Australian Merino high grades.
Breed numbers have remained steady since 1964. In 1980 the breed totalled 2 343 055 (99% purebred) including 8572 breeding rams, 43 634 other rams, and 1 686 058 ewes and yearling ewes.
In appearance Grozny sheep are similar to the Australian Merino but somewhat larger in size. They are medium-sized, have a compact body and satisfactory conformation (but hindlegs are often cow-hocked); the constitution is lean and strong and the frame is light and firm. Rams are usually horned; ewes are hornless. Most sheep (80-90%) are moderately wrinkled; rams have three large neck folds and ewes usually have one or two and also a well-developed skin fold and numerous small wrinkles over the body.
Withers height of ewes is 59-62 cm, oblique body length 63-65 cm and chest girth 90-100 cm. The average live weight of ewes ranges from 45 to 52 kg and reaches 55 kg with high feeding; the live weight of rams is 80-95 kg. The growth of ewes stops at the age of 3-3.5 years. Meat productivity is low. Carcasses of adult ewes barely reach 20 kg; the ratio of meat to bone is 2-3:1.
The wool is white, of very good quality, soft and silky. The fleece has a closed blocky staple. The outer part of the fleece is dense and staples are oblong or square in cross-section. The basal part is cylindrical in cross-section. The crimp is semicircular, even and pronounced with 6 or 7 crimps per centimetre. The wool is of 64s (70-80%) and 70s (20-25%) quality in ewes, and chiefly 60s-64s in rams, or 58s in some animals. The predominant staple length is 8.0-8.5 cm, with a range from 7.5 to 13 cm. The distribution of fibres within the staple is very even. The yolk is white, sometimes light cream of good quality. It is moderately soluble in cold water, so the outer section of the fleece is only slightly contaminated. Wool covers the head as far as the eyes and the limbs down to the hocks and knees. The covering of the belly is good; the wool there is sufficiently long and dense.
Wool production is high. Fleece weight reaches 6.5-8.0 kg in ewes and 16-18.0 kg in rams. The clean wool yield is some 45% (range 40-50%). The yolk content is 19.1%.
The average number of lambs dropped per 100 ewes lambing is 120-140, and the average milk yield is some 100 kg in 4.5 months of lactation.
The most productive and typical Grozny flocks are raised in large numbers on Chervlenny Buruny breeding farm in the Dagestan Autonomous Republic, Shelkovski breeding farm in the Checheno-Ingush Autonomous Republic and the breeding farm named for the 60th Anniversary of the Soviet Union in the Kalmyk Autonomous Republic. The flocks include major commercial types of the breed, and the breeders work with 5 or 6 strains each with its own typical characteristics.
Due to their high breeding merits and ability to increase wool production, Grozny sheep are widely used in nearly all areas where finewooled breeds are raised. Breeding and selection are currently under way, aimed at further enhancing the ability of sheep to transmit specific traits of the wool covering and at differentiating more clearly the intra-breed commercial types.
The State Flockbook lists 3408 ewes and 133 rams.
The Salsk breed was developed between 1922 and 1950 at Budenny stud farm in Rostov region which lies in the extremely arid Salsk steppe. Sheep there subsisted mainly on the pasture of the virgin lands and harvested hay. Pastures were utilized both in summer and in winter; when there was a little snow the sheep ate fescue (Festuca sulcata) and wormwood (Artemisia). At the same time sheep were given hay and small quantities of concentrates. Lately, supplements have increased in popularity at the expense of range forage.
The breed was created by crossing American Rambouillet rams onto the local Novocaucasian and Mazaev Merino ewes for three successive years. The sheep used for crossing were typical specimens of their respective breeds, with all their shortcomings. The aim of crossing was to improve constitution and conformation and to obtain larger animals of the wool type, well adapted to the local conditions and producing large clips of fine and long wool. From the stock of local animals ewes were chosen which were close to the preferred type. Crossbreds which did not meet the established criteria were rejected. The best halfbred rams were widely mated to ewes regardless of breed. Management and feeding were improved.
Its numbers have declined from 357 548 (46% purebreds) in 1964 to 108 694 (all purebreds) in 1980 including 1123 breeding rams, 1672 other rams and 78 569 ewes and yearlings.
In constitution (wiry and strong) and productivity Salsk sheep are similar to the Soviet Merino of the wool-mutton type; they are large in size, have few wrinkles and a satisfactory conformation. Spare skin takes the form of an apron on the lower part of the neck and, rarely, of annular wrinkles.
The live weight of ewes is 50-56 kg and that of rams is 95-110 kg. The average carcass weight of adult finished wethers is 33.5 kg and of ewes 27.2 kg. The 6.5-month-old wethers weigh 14.3 kg.
Wool is white and uniform. The fleece is closed and has a blocky staple. The staple is mainly cylindrical in cross-section. The crimp is distinct. The wool is predominantly of 64s quality but partly 70s in ewes and 60s-64s in rams. The wool is strong. Staple length is 8.0-8.7 cm in ewes and 8.5-9.0 cm in rams. Yolk is usually white or light-coloured, and easily washed out by water. Fleece weight is 7.5-8.5 kg in ewes and 16-17 kg in rams. Clean wool yield is 40-42%.
The average number of lambs dropped per 100 ewes lambing is 115-130, and in the best flocks up to 140.
The best flock of the Salsk breed is kept at Budenny stud in Rostov region. According to the breed regionalization plan, the breed is raised on farms of Rostov region. Breeding is aimed at further improvement in breed type, fleece structure and wool quality, and increasing meat production.
The State Flockbook lists 347 ewes and 8 rams.
The Stavropol breed was developed between 1923 and 1950 at Sovetskoe Runo breeding centre in Stavropol territory.
According to the breed regionalization plan this breed is raised in the North Caucasus, the Middle and Lower Volga and in Orenburg region of the Russian Federation.
The breed is based on the Novocaucasian and Mazaev Merinos. They had long, strong, and uniform wool with a high yolk content. At the same time their live weight was low, the conformation was poor, and wool was not dense enough. Therefore, it was decided that along with inter se breeding the local Merino should be crossed with the American Rambouillet. The crosses obtained had a larger size and better conformation but wool quality declined - it became shorter and less even. To improve wool quality the aforementioned crossbreds were mated to Australian Merino rams which were brought from the Chervlennye Buruny breeding centre. Such crossing, together with strict culling, improved the quality of wool and maintained good size and conformation. Selection of long-wooled animals and assortative mating with improved feeding made long wool a permanent feature. Lambs were given creep feed from the second week and by the age of 3 or 4 months they were receiving 0.3-0.4 kg of concentrates daily. Ewes were mated for the first time at the age of 2.5 years.
In 1950 the breed was recognized and given the name Stavropol. The total number of Stavropol sheep increased from 2 613 812 (37% of them purebreds) in 1964 to 3 734 825 (89% of them purebreds) in 1980 including 27 843 breeding rams, 46 778 other rams and 2 683 946 ewes and yearling ewes.
Stavropol sheep are medium-sized and have a strong constitution and a harmonious conformation. Rams are horned and ewes are usually hornless. The chest is deep and sufficiently wide. The back is level, of medium length; the rump is wide, and somewhat sloping. The legs are wiry and strong, correctly set. The skin is tight and thin. Both ewes and rams have 1 or 2 well-developed skin wrinkles on the neck.
The live weight of ewes is 50-56 kg, the maximum being 102 kg; the live weight of rams is 100-110 kg (maximum 146 kg).
Sheep of this breed have a high wool production. Wool is white, uniform in fleece and staple. The fleece has a blocky staple; the density (both by feel and by measurement) is medium to good. The upper layer is oblong or square in cross-section; the inner layer is chiefly cylindrical in cross-section. The crimp is distinct. The wool is predominantly 64s-70s quality but up to 40% of animals have wool of 70s or higher quality. The wool is strong, elastic, soft and gentle to the touch; it has good spinning qualities. The average staple length is 8.9 cm in ewes and 11.6 cm in rams; maximum figures are 13 and 16 cm respectively. The yolk is white or light cream. Fleece weight is 6.5-7.0 (maximum 13.0) kg in ewes and 14.0-19.0 (maximum 25.0) kg in rams.
The fertility of ewes is high and in favourable conditions the average number of lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing is 130-135.
The best Stavropol flocks are raised at Sovetskoe Runo and Rossiya breeding centres and on Lenin collective farm in Stavropol territory and on Kotovski collective farm in Volgograd region.
Stavropol sheep are widely used for improving sheep breeds on collective and state farms in the Bashkir, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkar and North Ossetian ASSRs, Krasnodar territory and Voronezh and Kuibyshev regions of the Russian Federation, and on farms in the Kazakh, Kirgiz, Uzbek, Ukrainian, and Tajik Republics. They have been exported to and are successfully raised in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and other countries.
Breeding plans envisage further improvement of the wool quality and conformation.
Ths State Flockbook lists 17 762 ewes and 781 rams.
The Altai breed was produced between 1934 and 1949 at Ovtsevod breeding centre (formerly Rubtsovsk state farm) and on Strana Sovetov collective farm in Rubtsovsk district of Altai territory.
The breed is well adapted to the severe climate of Siberia. According to the breed regionalization plan it is raised in Altai territory, the Bashkir and Buryat ASSRs, Novosibirsk, Tyumen and Kurgan regions of the Russian Federation, and in the Kazakh SSR. Sheep of this breed are also raised in the Mongolian People's Republic.
The breed is based on local Merino sheep which were brought to Siberia from the North Caucasus during 1901-05. From 1928 to 1936 they were mated to American Rambouillet rams. This considerably improved conformation and increased live weight but significantly shortened wool length. The animals obtained did not meet the desired standards; therefore it was decided to develop a new type of highly productive Merino sheep adapted to the severe climatic conditions of Siberia.
In 1936 Caucasian rams were brought from Bolshevik state farm; Chervlennye Buruny breeding centre provided Australian Merino rams. These rams were mated to large, though shortwooled grade Rambouillet ewes and to finewool x coarsewooled ewes. The offspring obtained were used in the following way: small sheep with good wool characteristics were mated within the same flock to large rams with worsted wool. Sheep of the desired type were bred inter se, while larger individuals with short wool were mated to Caucasian rams. Small sheep with short wool were culled. In 1940 the sheep obtained were approved as a breed group designated by the name Siberian Ramouillet. During the next eight years the breed group was improved and in 1948 the breed was approved and recognized in 1949 under the name Altai Finewool.
The total numbers of Altai sheep have declined slightly since 1964 but purebreds have increased over 6 times. The total in 1980 was 4 499 819 (74% purebreds) including 68 591 breeding rams, 51 998 other rams and 3 285 544 ewes and yearlings.
In appearance the Altai sheep are similar to the Rambouillet. They are large in size; the constitution is strong; the frame is well developed and wool production is high. Rams are horned and ewes are hornless. Most rams have 2 or 3 neck folds, and ewes have 1 or 2 circular skin folds and smaller body wrinkles. The body is long, the back straight, the rump wide and somewhat sloping. The legs are strong, correctly set, but sometimes cow-hocked.
The live weight of ewes is 53-65 kg (max. 108 kg) and that of rams is 105-130 kg (max. 155 kg). Maturity is sufficiently early - by the age of 4.5 months ewe lambs weight 28-30 kg. Growth stops at the age of 2.5-3 years when sheep reach their maximum live weight.
The wool is white; the fleece and staple are uniform. The fleece has a blocky staple, close and dense; the staple is oblong or square in cross-section. The crimp is fine and distinct. The wool from ewes is chiefly of 64s quality: some 3-7% have wool of 70s quality and 8-10% of 60s. Ram's wool is of 64s-60s quality, partly 58s. The staple length of ewes is 8-8.8 cm and that of rams is 8.7-9.8 cm. The average fleece weight from ewes is 6-7 and from rams 14-18 kg. Clean wool yield is 40-42%.
Lambing rate of Altai sheep is high; the number of lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing is 150-165. At Kuriinski breeding farm of Altai territory ewes had an average lambing rate of 152%; the lamb crop at weaning was 149.3%, and in the best flock, 168.4%. The average milk yield is 102 kg. The carcass weight varies from 42 to 45% of the live weight, with the meat/bone ratio of 3.6:1.
Within the breed, there are 4 ram lines.
The best flocks of Altai sheep are raised at Ovtsevod and 50th Anniversary of the USSR breeding centres, and on Strana Sovetov collective farm in Altai territory.
Altai rams were used to develop the Trans-Baikal Finewool breed.
The yolk is unstable, easily washed out, and this is one of the weak points of the breed. In addition, in some animals the fleece cover of the body, particularly of the belly, is unsatisfactory. There are also sheep with uneven or thin fleece of insufficient density. Further breeding is aimed at correcting these weak points.
The State Flockbook lists 12 583 ewes and 426 rams.
The Askanian breed was developed during 1925-34 by M.F. Ivanov in Askania Nova which lies in the arid steppe of the Ukraine. Finewooled sheep had been raised there for more than a hundred years. The breed is based on local Merino sheep which survived World War I and the Civil War. These were small animals with thin wool of medium fineness. Most of them had small wrinkles; the conformation was good and the production low. The live weight of ewes was 40-42 kg (max. 50 kg). The average fleece weight was 4.5-4.6 kg, with a clean wool yield of 33-35%.
M.F. Ivanov set himself the task of producing, on the basis of the Askania-Nova flock, unwrinkled sheep of the Merino type with a live weight up to 60 kg, good conformation, long worsted wool of medium fineness (60s-64s quality) and high fleece weight and wool yield. The animals were to meet the environmental conditions of the Ukrainian arid steppes.
Local Merino ewes were mated to American Rambouillet rams, with selection and culling of the offspring. Meat qualities were improved by infusing small quantities of Pre/?/coce blood. The most valuable animals were obtained among crossbreds with one-half and one-quarter of Rambouillet blood. To fix the desired type inbreeding was practised on a moderate scale.
After the Second World War the Askanian breed was re-established by pure breeding of the remaining flock and by grading up finewool ewes brought from the North Caucasus with purebred Askanian rams.
Total breed numbers declined slightly between 1964 and 1969 but purebreds increased. Since then they have remained relatively stable. In 1980 the total was 1 782 820 (90% purebreds) including 37 417 breeding rams, 10 649 other rams, and 1 193 157 ewes and yearlings.
The Askanian breed is known for its uniform type and high productivity. Sheep are large in size, have one or two wrinkles, and good mutton conformation. Withers height of ewes is 68-70 cm, oblique body length 70-72 cm, and chest girth 100-102 cm. The skeleton is sufficiently strong; there are no particular faults in the conformation. Rams are horned, and ewes are usually polled.
The live weight of ewes is 58-65 kg (max. 120 kg) and that of rams is 110-120 kg. Ram No. 77 had a live weight of 183 kg - a world record for finewool sheep. Ewes have satisfactory precocity: heavily fed 18-month-olds reach the live weight of adult ewes. The finished weight of 9-month-old lambs is 42.2 kg and the carcass weight is 18.9 kg.
The wool is white and uniform. The fleece has a blocky staple; it is of medium density. The crimp is regular and distinct. The wool is of 64s-60s quality (22-24 m) in ewes and 60s-58s (24-26 m) in rams. The staple length is 7.5-9.0 cm in ewes and 8-10 cm (max. 13) in rams. The yolk is light yellow or cream, rarely white.
Fleece weight is 6.5-8.0 kg in ewes and 16-19 kg in rams, with clean wool yield of 42-45%. In the best flocks the clean fleece weight is 3.0-3.2 kg. The maximal fleece weight of 31.7 kg was sheared from a ram at the Krasny Chaban breeding centre in the Kherson region, which is the absolute world record for all breeds.
Lamb crop is 125-130 lambs per hundred ewes lambing; in individual flocks it may reach the figure of 150.
By the time the breed was approved 4 ram lines existed; later 4 new lines were produced.
The best breeding flocks of Askanian sheep are on Askania Nova and Krasny Chaban breeding centres in Kherson region and Kommunist farm in Zaporozhye region.
According to the breed regionalization plan, the breed is raised in the south of the Ukraine and is used for improving other finewooled breeds. It was used to produce such breeds as the Caucasian, Azerbaijan Mountain Merino, and Soviet Merino.
Selection work with the breed is aimed at improving wool and meat qualities, early maturity and adaptability to the conditions of intensive sheep breeding and farming.
The State Flockbook lists 4968 ewes and 200 rams.
The Caucasian breed was produced between 1922 and 1936 on the Bolshevik state farm in the east of the Stavropol territory which is in an arid steppe typical of sheep raising regions of the North Caucasus. The breed is widely spread in the Stavropol and Krasnodar territories, the Volgograd, Rostov, Ulyanovsk regions and the Kalmyk ASSR. Caucasian sheep are also raised in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.
The breed was obtained by crossing local Merinos (Novocaucasian and Mazaev) ewes with American Rambouillet and Askanian rams. Most of the local Merinos had poor fleece density, poor conformation, a low wool yield and excessive yolk. The fleece weight was 1.5-1.6 kg and the wool yield was some 30%. The live weight of Novocaucasian rams was 61-73 kg and that of ewes 43-50 kg. Corresponding figures for Mazaev sheep were 49-65 kg and 29-48 kg respectively.
The aim was to obtain sheep with a greater live weight (55-60 kg in ewes and 100 kg in rams), with better meat conformation, and a heavier clip of long (7.5 cm or longer), strong worsted wool of 64s quality.
The breeding work consists of the following stages: from 1921 to 1926, local Merino sheep, chiefly of the Novocaucasian type, were bred and improved by inter se breeding. From 1927 to 1930, American Rambouillet rams were imported and mated to local sheep. From 1931 to 1936, sheep were bred to achieve uniformity and establish firmly the most valuable characteristics of the Rambouillet and Askanian breeds (which was used in 1935), preserving at the same time the good qualities (long and strong wool, yolk content) of the original population. At this stage rigid selection and culling were applied, sheep were artificially inseminated, and the desired breed type was developed.
Total numbers have declined slightly since 1964 but purebreds have increased two and a half times. In 1980 the total was 5 057 679 (73% purebreds) including 46 915 breeding rams, 55 374 other rams and 3 733 116 ewes and yearlings.
Today, sheep of the Caucasian breed have a strong constitution and a good conformation. They are sufficiently large although somewhat smaller than Askanian sheep but have more skin folds and better wool density. They have from one to three neck folds and numerous body wrinkles which become noticeable after shearing. Individual sheep may either have large folds or be completely without wrinkles. Rams are usally horned; ewes are polled. The body is barrel-shaped, sufficiently long; the withers are somewhat raised above the top line; the legs are strong, sometimes cow-hocked. The legs and head are densely covered with wool.
The live weight of ewes on farms of all types is 48-54 kg and on breeding farms it is 52-58 kg (max. 122 kg). The live weight of rams is 115-123 kg (max. 160 kg). The carcass weight of adult ewes is 23.5 kg and of 7-month castrates 15.2 kg with meat/bone ratios of 3.85:1 and 3.75:1 respectively.
The wool is white; the fleece and staple are uniform. The fleece has a blocky staple; the outer part is dense and has a square or oblong cross-section. The crimp is regular, distinct. The wool is usually of 64s quality (20.6-23.0 m), the ram's wool is 60s-58s quality (24-26 m). The length of ewe's wool is 8.0-8.5 cm, and of rams 9-10 cm. Yolk is predominantly light cream, rarely white.
Fleece weight of ewes on farms of all types is 4.8-5.4 kg and on breeding farms 5.1-5.8 kg (max. 14.0 kg). In rams, fleece weight is 16-20 kg (max. 25.4 kg).
Ewes have high fecundity and milk yield. The average number of lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing is 130-150. The average daily milk yield during the first 70 days of lactation is 1.5 kg with a fat content of 6.3%.
There are 6 main lines.
The best breeding flocks of Caucasian sheep are raised on Bolshevik and 60th Anniversary of the USSR breeding centres in Stavropol territory, and on Privolny state breeding centre in Volgograd region.
Caucasian sheep were used to produce such breeds as the Altai, Azerbaijan Mountain Merino, Georgian Fat-tailed Finewool, South Ural, Volgograd, and Krasnoyarsk Finewool.
The continued breeding work is aimed at increasing the wool clip and yield, improving the quality of wool and yolk and obtaining earlier maturity.
The State Flockbook lists 29 913 ewes and 404 rams.
The Kirgiz Finewool breed was produced between 1932 and 1956 on Juan Tyube, Orgocher, Katta Taldyk and other state farms to suit the specific conditions of Kirgizia. Nearly half of the republic's territory lies at an altitude of more than 3000 metres which results in a sharply continental climate. The average winter and summer temperatures differ by 30-35 C. Kirgizia has a very variable rainfall, with 100 to 110 mm in the mountain desert zone and 800 to 1000 mm in the mountain pasture zone. Until the 1930s coarsewooled sheep of the Kirgiz fat-rumped breed were predominantly raised there.
The task of the breeders was to develop a new type of finewooled sheep suitable for transhumance husbandry and characterized by high meat and wool qualities and tolerance of year-long pasture feeding.
The breeding work was divided into three stages. From 1932 to 1940, coarsewooled fat-rumped ewes were crossed with finewooled rams, first of the Novocaucasian and Siberian Merino breeds and later with Précoce and Württemberg (Merino Landschaf) rams imported from Germany. From 1940 to 1949, sheep of the desired type, which were mainly the offspring of three generations of grading-up, were bred inter se. From 1950 to 1955, the work was aimed at improving the characteristics of the breed, particularly its wool qualities. Sheep of the desired type were mated among themselves and to rams of the Caucasian, Altai, Stavropol, Akskanian and, particularly, Grozny breeds.
Numbers, especially of purebreds, have increased steadily since 1964. In 1980 the total was 5 441 006 (99% purebred) including 51 685 breeding rams, 39 777 other rams and 3 893 895 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of the Kirgiz breed have a strong constitution and a harmonious conformation. They have few or no skin folds; rams have 1 to 3 incomplete folds on the neck. The chest is wide and deep. The body is slightly elongated and with wide-apart legs which are of moderate length. Hoofs are tough. The colour is white; in some sheep there are light brown or brown spots on the ear-tips, around the eyes, and on the legs.
The live weight of ewes is 55-65 kg (max. 88 kg) and that of rams 100-110 kg (max. 122 kg). They are early maturing: ewes reach 85-87% of the live weight of adult sheep by the age of 18 months. In meat characters they surpass fat-rumped sheep; their carcass weight is 4-5 kg more and the meat quality is higher.
The wool is white; uniformity of fleece is good or satisfactory. The fleece has a blocky staple; it is closed and sufficiently dense. The crimp in most sheep is normal, distinct. The wool is of 64s (60-65%) and 60s quality (35-40%); the ram's wool is of 60s-58s quality. The staple length is 7.0-8.0 cm. The quality of yolk is adequate. The covering of the body is also adequate: the head is covered with wool as far as the eyes and the limbs down to the knees and hocks. Fleece weight of ewes is 4.3 kg (range 3-8.5 kg); that of rams is 12.0 (range 9.5-14.0 kg). Clean wool yield is 52-56%.
Lambing rate is 120-150 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing; the best flocks have a 170.6% lamb crop.
The best flocks are raised at Lushchikhin, Katta Taldyk and Kochkorka breeding centres, and at the Orgocher Sheep Breeding Experiment Station in the Kirgiz SSR. Each of these farms has 4-5 outstanding ram lines.
Strong points of this breed are hardiness, and ability to walk long distances and subsist on mountain and valley pasture.
Sheep of the Kirgiz Finewool breed are raised in most regions of the Kirgiz SSR and in part of the Tajik SSR.
Further breeding and selection are aimed at improving breed type, increasing wool production, and improving the technological qualities of the wool.
The State Flockbook lists 395 ewes and 130 rams.
The Krasnoyarsk Finewool was formed on Moskovski, Uchumski and Askizski state farms, and Put k Kommunismu collective farm in Krasnoyarsk territory between 1926 and 1963.
Finewool sheep breeding first appeared in Krasnoyarsk territory in 1911-12 when Mazaev and Novocaucasian Merinos were brought from the North Caucasus. In 1926 American Rambouillet rams and ewes were brought in. Along with pure breeding, mass crossing of coarsewooled ewes with finewooled rams began. In 1930, several thousand Précoce sheep were imported from Germany (i.e. German Mutton Merino). Because of their better wool, further breeding was based on Précoce and Rambouillet rams of various grades with the desired productivity. Later, Askanian and Grozny rams were used to improve the wool. The problem was to obtain strong and hardy sheep capable of subsisting on pasture, with the conformation of the Précoce but with higher wool production.
Careful breeding has resulted in the emergence of a new breed designated the Krasnoyarsk Finewool. The total numbers of sheep of this breed have doubled since 1964. In 1980 they numbered 2 169 964 (80% purebreds) including 10 934 breeding rams, 28 019 other rams and 1 590 714 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of this breed have a strong constitution, large size and good conformation. In appearance they resemble the Précoce. Rams may have horns; ewes are usually polled. The chest is sufficiently wide and deep, the back is broad and level, the rump is wide and somewhat sloping. Thighs are full. The head is wooled down to the eye-line, and legs down to knees and hocks. Sheep have a good production of both meat and wool.
There are three intra-breed types: Uchum, Khakass, and Angara. Sheep of the Uchum type are very large and have good meat conformation. The best flocks of this type are at Uchumski breeding centre, and on Yenisei and Uzhurski breeding state farms in Krasnoyarsk territory. On these farms, the live weight of ewes is 55-60 kg, with fleece weight of 4.5-5.2 kg and staple length of 8 cm or over. The average live weight of rams is 120.9 kg and their fleece weight is 10.0-14-4 kg with a staple length of 8.8-9.6 cm. The wool is predominantly of 64s quality. The clean wool yield is 50-52%.
Sheep of the Khakass type have a somewhat lower live weight, more loose skin and higher wool production. The best flocks are at Moskovski breeding centre and on Askizski, Rossia and Krasnoozerny state farms of the Khakass Autonomous Region. in these flocks the live weight of ewes is 50-55 kg and the fleece weight is 5.2-6.2 kg. Rams have a live weight of 93-118 kg with fleece weight of 12.6-16.1 and wool length of 9.0-9.6 cm. The wool is chiefly of 64s quality. The clean wool yield is 48-50%.
Sheep of the Angara type are well adapted to conditions of the cis-Baikal area. The best flocks of these sheep are raised on Prevomaiski breeding state farm and on Primorsky state farm of Irkutsk region. On these farms, ewes have a live weight of 55-60 kg and rams of 100-111 kg; the fleece weight of ewes is 5-6 kg and that of rams 13-14 kg.
Lambing rate is 120-130 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
Breeding of sheep of the Uchum type is aimed at strengthening their constitution, increasing live weight and fleece weight and improving meat qualities, early maturity and wool quality. Breeding the Khakass type is aimed at preserving their strong constitution and adaptation to range conditions, at increasing fleece weight and improving wool quality. Breeding of sheep of the Angara type is aimed at enhancing the combination of wool and meat production, increasing fleece weight and improving wool quality.
The State Flockbook lists 2777 ewes and 46 rams.
North Kazakh Merinos are finewool sheep of wool-meat type. The breed was recognized in 1976. It was formed on farms in the northern and northeastern regions of Kazakhstan. This area is assigned to this breed in the Breed Regionalization Plan.
The farms of Pavlodar region used to breed finewool sheep of the Novocaucasian and Mazaev types. American Rambouillet rams were then used as improvers. The crosses were satisfactory in weight, constitution and adaptability to the local environment but in wool length and evenness they resembled their female parents. To remove the shortcomings and better the performance, Altai and Askanian rams were used and subsequently Grozny blood was added. Finally only home-bred sires were used.
Finewool sheep populations in Semipalatinsk and Kustanai regions were formed through crossbreeding of coarsewool fat-rumped ewes with rams of the Novocaucasian Merino, Rambouillet and Précoce breeds and the subsequent use of Askanian, Stavropol and the best home-bred rams. The farms of Semipalatinsk region employed Altai, Askanian and Stavropol rams since 1962. The final stage involved rams of Beskaragaiski breeding centre of Pavlodar region which led to a great similarity in the biological and productive traits of these sheep.
Selection has resulted in a Merino breed characterized by a comparatively high performance. On 1 January 1980 the breed numbered 1 006 300 including 19 400 rams and 733 300 ewes and yearling ewes. Purebreds amounted to 568 300 including 19 400 rams and 390 500 ewes and yearling ewes.
The North Kazakh Merino has a large body, strong constitution, harmonious conformation, good adaptability. Rams are generally horned while ewes are polled. Rams have 1-2 wrinkles on the neck and developed skin folds; ewes have medium-developed folds.
Wool is white, Merino type, 64s quality, with a fine crimp and even in staple fineness and length. Staple length is 8.0-8.5 cm. Fleece has a closed staple. Yolk is white or light cream. Productivity is fairly high. Live weight of rams is 100-110 kg while ewes weigh 55-60 kg. Fleece weight is 10-12 kg and 5.5-6.0 kg respectively. Clean wool yield is 40-43%. Fertility averages 110-120% reaching 130-140% in some flocks.
The best flocks are at Beskaragaiski breeding centre, 50th Aniversary of the USSR state farm, 22nd CPSU Congress state farm in Pavlodar region, Sulukolski breeding centre in Kustanai region and Karakol breeding state farm named after B. Abkanov in Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan. These animals are celebrated for their performance: average rams' live weight is 100-110 kg; ewes' weight is 60-65 kg; fleece weight is 13-15 kg for rams and 6-7 kg for ewes, with a staple length of 9.0-9.5 cm and 8.0-8.5 cm respectively.
Further selection is aimed at increased wool yield and a higher percentage of clean wool, improved quality of wool and yolk and earlier maturity. The State Herdbook registers 528 ewes and 36 rams.
The South Kazakh Merino was formed between 1944 and 1964 at state farms in Jambul, Chimkent, and Kzyl-Orda regions. Sheep of this breed combine relatively high wool production with good adaptation to year-long ranging in semi-deserts and deserts of the Kazakh SSR. In winter, in addition to pasture forage, sheep receive supplementary feeding depending on seasonal conditions and the time of lambing. The average supplement consists of 20-200 kg of roughage, 10-150 kg of succulent feeds and 14-40 kg of concentrates per sheep.
The work aimed at transforming coarsewooled sheep into finewools began in 1932. Fat-rumped ewes were first mated to Novocaucasian and Soviet Merino rams, and then to rams of the Caucasian, Grozny and Stavropol breeds. Small numbers of Altai and Askanian rams were also used. The objective was to improve the quality of wool and increase the clip. The breed of rams used on each farm depended on the quality of the first crosses and the specific economic conditions. Sheep of the desired type were selected among the improved crossbreds regardless of their relationship or origin and were bred inter se. In the last stages, purebred rams of the improver breeds were mated only to crossbred ewes which diverged from the desired type. Pure breeding was accompanied by positive assortative mating in order to fix the desired characters. Thus, a Merino breed has emerged which is well-adapted to local conditions.
Numbers have increased considerably since 1964. There are now (1980) 2 562 817 in all (98% purebreds) including 42 091 breeding rams, 10 903 other rams and 1 839 919 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of this breed have a strong constitution, a good conformation, solid skeleton and relatively high productivity. On the lower part of the neck they have apron-shaped skin folds.
The live weight of ewes is 50-55 kg, and that of rams is 100-120 kg. Meat production is satisfactory; the slaughter yield of 18-month-old wethers is 47%.
The wool is white, of Merino type and uniform. The fleece has a blocky staple; it is closed and of medium density. The crimp is sufficiently distinct. The ewe's wool is predominantly of 64s quality; the ram's is one quality coarser. The length of ewe's wool is 7.5-8.0 cm and of the ram's is 8.5-9.0 cm. Yolk content is not sufficient; therefore the outer part of the fleece is dry and dirty.
Fleece weight of ewes is 3.7-4.5 (max. 6.2 kg) and that of rams is up to 12 kg, with a clean wool yield of 50-53%. In recent years, the clip sheared on breeding farms is 2.4-2.5 kg of clean wool per sheep.
Lambing rate is 140-145 lambs dropped per 100 ewes lambing.
There are 5 ram lines.
The best flocks of this breed are raised at Lenin and Merkenski breeding centres in Jambul region and at Kuyuk and Zhdanov breeding centres and Chanak experimental farm in Chimkent region.
Further breeding and culling are aimed at increasing the clip of wool and improving its quality (increasing the uniformity of wool and eliminating coarse fibres on thighs).
The State Flockbook lists 3044 ewes and 708 rams.
The Soviet Merino is the most numerous and widespread breed of finewooled sheep in the country. They are raised in the North Caucasus, in the Volga area and the Urals and in the central regions of Russia and Kazakhstan. Because of the many different natural and economic conditions in which they are bred and the differences in origin the Soviet Merinos differ greatly among themselves in productivity and constitution.
The basic stock was obtained by crossing local coarsewooled sheep in various parts of the country with finewooled rams of different breeds and breed groups. In the early stages (1925-30) American Rambouillet and Askanian rams were widely used to improve conformation, strengthen the constitution and increase wool production. Later (1930-46), grade Rambouillets and Australian Merinos were used, and when the Caucasian, Stavropol, Grozny, and Altai were developed rams of these breeds were also used for improving the Soviet Merino. In 1938, the finewooled sheep obtained was designated by the name Soviet Merino.
The Soviet Merino breed has a developed structure. There are varieties (North Caucasian and Siberian) and intra-breed types (wool-mutton, wool). Every type is represented by breeding centres, breeding and commercial farms. Breeding farms have various lines based on outstanding sires.
The numbers of Soviet Merino sheep increased 4-fold between 1964 and 1969 since than they have declined even more sharply. The total in 1980 was 7 875 218 (69% purebreds) including 115 832 breeding rams, 189 290 other rams and 5 600 810 ewes and yearlings.
Soviet Merino sheep are known for their good conformation, strong constitution, proportionate build, good frame, and correct set of legs. Sheep of the desired type have a well-developed transverse wrinkle on the neck and well-developed body folds. Animals with cow hocks, sway backs or sloping rumps are rare.
The live weight of ewes is 45-55 kg (max. 98 kg) and that of ewes is 98-124 kg (max. 147). Ewes reach mature weight at the age of three years and rams at the age of four. The carcass yield is 42-48%.
The wool is white; it is uniform in fibre fineness and length. The fleece has a closed blocky staple. The crimp is distinct. Ewe's wool is usually of 64s quality; a few sheep have wool of 60s and 70s quality. Ewe's wool is 7.5-8.5 cm long and that of rams is 8.5-9.0 cm. The yolk is light yellow or cream, rarely white. Fleece weight of ewes is 5.5-7.0 kg (max. 9.4 kg), and that of rams 11-12 kg (max. 28.4 kg) with a clean wool yield of 39.0-43.0%.
Lambing rate is 130-140 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
The best Soviet Merino flocks of mutton type are raised at the breeding centre of Kirov collective farm in the Kalmyk ASSR, and those of wool-mutton type at Gashunski breeding centre and at the breeding centres on Lenin and Zavety Ilyicha collective farms in Rostov region, at Aigurski and Krasny Budennovets breeding centres in Stavropol territory and at Maryanovski breeding centre in Omsk region.
Soviet Merino rams were widely used for grading up coarsewooled and finewool x coarsewooled ewes in different parts of the country. As a result of further crossing the following new breeds have emerged: the Trans-Baikal Finewool, Azerbaijan Mountain Merino, South Kazakh Merino, and North Kazakh Merino. The Azerbaijan Mountain Merino is not described in this monograph because it is very similar to the Soviet Merino, the Trans-Baikal Finewool and the South Kazakh Merino.
Further selection is aimed at eliminating weak points in the conformation, increasing the wool yield and improving the evenness of the fleece and staple, and the quality of yolk.
The State Flockbook lists 38 379 ewes and 2324 rams.
The Trans-Baikal Finewool breed was formed between 1927 and 1956 at Krasny Velikan, Karl Marx, Komsomolets state farms and on Kommunism and Russia collective farms of Chita Region.
The natural conditions of the Trans-Baikal area are severe. The temperature in winter drops to -40O to -50O C sometimes to -60O; the summer is hot, and the temperature often reaches 40O C or more; the mean annual temperature is -2O to -3O C. The number of frost-free days in the year is 70 to 80. The rainfall is 250-300 mm. Solar radiation is abundant; cloudy days are few. The vegetation on steppe pastures and hay meadows is scarce and consists mainly of short-stemmed grasses: wheatgrass (Aneurolepidium racemosum), fescue (Festuca sulcata), hairgrass (Koeleria gracilis), meadow grass (Poa) and others. The hay yield is 200 to 400 kg per hectare.
In the past, mainly Mongolian and Buryat coarsewooled fat-tailed sheep were raised in this region. These sheep produced only 1.0-1.2 kg of coarse wool, but they were well-adapted to the severe local conditions.
Finewooled sheep first appeared in the Trans-Baikal area in 1831 when 316 Electoral and Infantado sheep were brought there. However, neither pure breeding nor crossbreeding was a success. Between 1927 and 1930 Précoce, Novocaucasian and Siberian Merinos were brought in on a large scale. They were mated to coarsewooled ewes producing crossbreds of various grades. The latter were bred inter se in 1943 and 1944. In 1947 and 1948 the best crosses obtained by inter se breeding had a wool clip of 3.2-3.5 kg when kept year-long on pasture. Later, in order to improve them, Précoce, Altai, and Grozny rams were used. Rigid selection of sheep of the desired type and their inter se breeding have resulted in the emergence of a new breed designated the Trans-Baikal Finewool.
The number of sheep of this breed has doubled since 1964. In 1980 they numbered 4 360 534 (80% purebreds) including 31 378 breeding rams, 52 162 other rams and 3 261 313 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of the Trans-Baikal Finewool breed are medium or large in size, with a strong constitution and a proportionate build. They have few skin folds; spare skin appears in the form of aprons and small body wrinkles. Rams usually have 0.5 to 1.5 neck folds. The chest is well developed. The back is straight, of medium length; the rump is wide. The legs are strong and set correctly.
The live weight of ewes is 55-60 kg (max. 96 kg) and that of rams is 100-115 kg (max. 150 kg). Sheep mature early; the meat conformation is satisfactory.
The wool is white, generally uniform. The fleece has a blocky staple and is of medium density. The outer staple has predominantly the shape of small squares in cross-section. The crimp is distinct, large and somewhat open. The ewe's wool is 60s and 64s quality, ram's 60s and 58s. Staple length is 7.0-8.5 cm and 8.0-9.0 cm respectively. Yolk is light yellow, light cream or white, sufficiently resistant to atmospheric effects. The head is wooled down to the eyes, the legs up to the knees
Lambing rate is satisfactory, with 120-130 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
The best flocks of the Trans-Baikal breed are raised at Karl Marx, Krasny Velikan, and Komsomolets breeding centres in Chita region.
A special feature of Trans-Baikal sheep is their ability to live on pasture throughout the year and even to subsist on snow-covered grasslands. They easily survive low temperatures; therefore light roofless pens are sufficient in winter.
Further breeding is aimed at improving wool quality, increasing the clip, and enhancing qualities that ensure hardiness and viability.
The State Flockbook lists 845 ewes and 205 rams.
The breed was created on Eldari sheep state farm in the Georgian SSR between 1936 and 1959. It was developed by selection, rigid culling, and inter se breeding of crosses of the first and partly of the second generation obtained by mating Tushin ewes to finewool rams.
The breed was developed in peculiar feeding and climatic conditions. Most of the winter pastures of Eldari state farm lie some 450 km away from the farm in a semi-desert steppe area, while summer ranges are alpine and sub-alpine, at altitudes of 1800 to 3050 m. This means that sheep are kept on a transhumance system.
Winter pastures are at 160-170 m above sea level. The climate is dry: the average annual rainfall does not exceed 250-300 mm and the average annual temperature is 14-15OC. The soils are mainly brown or light chestnut, covered by wormwood (Artemisia) and other halophytes. Sheep run on winter pastures from 15 October to 10 May i.e. for about 200 days a year. It takes them some 35 days to reach summer quarters where they spend the rest of the year. The climate there is mountainous continental and the average annual rainfall is 500 to 550 mm. Summer pasture consists mainly of various types of fescue. Vegetation is scarce on winter pastures, therefore, sheep receive supplemental feeding (hay and concentrates) when the weather is bad. In summer sheep subsist on pasture, and supplemental feeding is given only to breeding rams and market rams. When sheep are moved from winter quarters to summer ranges they cover 25-40 km/day instead of the 10 or 15 km which is usual for finewool sheep in the steppe zones.
The aim was to obtain a new breed that would maintain the high productivity and wool quality of finewool sheep and develop viability, hardiness and ability to store nutrients in the fat tail. The new breed was to be capable of subsisting on pastures throughout the year and of covering large distances. Early maturity was also a desired trait.
In 1936, local Tushin ewes were first mated to Soviet Merino rams from state farms of the Rostov region. After 1940 Caucasian rams from the Bolshevik state breeding farm in the Stavropol area were used.
In the first phase of breeding (until 1945), finewool rams were mated to Tushin and crossbred ewes with semicoarse wool in order to obtain crossbreds with uniform semifine wool and fat tails.
In the second phase, when there were enough sheep with semifine wool and fat tails, breeders began work to improve the quality of wool. They used crossbred rams with finer wool; the offspring of these rams fuller corresponded to the desired type.
The result was the emergence of sheep which combined the productivity and biological features of the parent breeds, i.e. uniform fine wool and fat tails. In 1985 the sheep were recognized as a new breed with the name Georgian Fat-tailed Finewool.
Sheep of this breed are raised in two districts of Georgia, i.e. Tsiteli Tskaro and Bogdanovka. According to the breed regionalization plan, in 26 regions of eastern Georgia Georgian Finewool Fat-tailed rams are used along with other breeds of Merino rams.
The numbers of this breed had declined very much even ten years after its recognition. From 42 012 in 1964 it now (1980) numbers only 2018 with 67 breeding rams and 1166 ewes and yearlings.
The special features of Georgian Fat-tailed Finewool sheep are their relatively heavy weight, fat tails and fine wool. They usually have a fine constitution, solid frame and good conformation. The head is light and lean; the profile is straight; the withers are level and sufficiently wide; the chest is wide with well-sprung ribs; the back and rump are level. Muscles are well developed. The body is compact. The legs are strong, correctly set, and with tough hoofs.
The fleece has a blocky staple. The wool is close and dense; these qualities, which are very important with extensive husbandry, are pronounced in most sheep. The wool is mainly of 60s and 64s quality, with a length of 7 cm or more, uniform in length and fineness and with crimp like a Merino. The length, strength, fineness, uniformity, condition and technological characteristics of the wool make it suitable for the production of worsted fabrics. Yolk is light yellow or white; it helps to preserve the wool. The clean wool yield is 47-53%.
Fleece weight is 7 kg (max. 11 kg) for breeding rams, 5 kg (max. 9.8 kg) for yearling rams, 3.8 kg (max. 6.8 kg) for ewes, and 3.4 kg (max. 9.4 kg) for yearling ewes. The average live weight of breeding rams is 82 kg (max. 120 kg), of yearling rams 50 kg (max. 84 kg), of ewes 56 kg (max. 98 kg) and of yearling ewes for replacement 40 kg (max. 78 kg).
Sheep are well adapted to the extreme conditions of transhumance; in hardiness they are not inferior to the parental Tushin breed and much better than the crosses which are popular in the area. Like other mountain breeds, they have good lambing rate, with 110-118 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
The best flock of this breed is on Eldari state farm. Live weight of rams is 90-100 kg and that of ewes is 50-55 kg. Average fleece weight is 3.5-4.0 kg and staple length 8 cm. The wool is predominantly of 64s qulity.
Breeding rams of the Fat-tailed Finewool breed have been exported to Tajik SSR and to the Dagestan and Checheno-Ingush ASSRs, where the climatic conditions are suitable.
The breed represents a genetic resource of sheep with uniform wool and fat tails suitable for transhumance husbandry.
The Kazakh Arkhar-Merino breed was produced between 1934 and 1950 at Kurmektinski experiment station of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR. The station lies in the Kungei and Zailiiskii Alatau mountains of the Alma Ata region, at an altitude of 2200 metres above sea level. The breed is based on interspecific hybridization of wild arkhar rams with finewool ewes of the Novocaucasian Merino, Précoce and Rambouillet breeds.
The aim was to develop a new breed of finewool sheep which would combine the valuable qualities of the Merino (fine wool, large wool clip, early maturity and good meat qualities) with adaptability to year-long keeping on mountain pastures at altitudes of 2500 to 3000 m.
The work began in autumn 1934 on Kzyl Oktyabr breeding state farm in the Kirgiz SSR. The semen of slaughtered arkhar rams was used to inseminate Novocaucasian Merino ewes, and in 1935 first crosses were obtained. In 1936 four crossbred rams were brought to Kazakhstan and used to inseminate Précoce and Rambouillet ewes. Third-generation cross rams, with 7/8 of the blood of finewool ewes and 1/8 of the arkhar blood, were mated to second-generation ewes. Ewes with coarse wool were inseminated by Précoce rams.
Numbers have increased only slightly since 1964. The total in 1980 was 617 847 (84% purebreds) including 8216 breeding rams and 453 733 ewes and yearling ewes.
Sheep of the Kazakh Arkhar-Merino breed have a strong constitution and a well-developed and solid frame. Meat and wool production is satisfactory. Sheep are large, long-legged, with a relatively wide, deep and full chest. There is one small lengthwise skin fold on the neck. Rams are usually horned and ewes are polled. The conformation is good and corresponds to that of mutton-type sheep. The legs are strong and correctly set. Sheep are good jumpers and traverse easily the mountainous terrain. Like the arkhar, they have good hearing and a keen sense of smell.
The live weight of ewes is 55-60 kg (max. 90 kg) and that of rams is 90-100 kg (max. 150 kg). The lambs are early maturing and reach 60% of the adult weight by the age of 4-5 months. The slaughter yield of adult wethers is 53% with a carcass weight of 37 kg.
The wool is thin, sufficiently uniform. The fleece has a blocky staple; it is closed and of moderate density. The outer staple has predominantly the shape of small squares in cross section. The wool is chiefly of 64s and 60s quality. The ewe's wool is 7.0-7.5 cm long and the ram's is 8-10 cm long. The head is wooled down to the eye-line and the legs down to the knees and hocks.
Fleece weight of ewes is 3.0-3.5 kg (max. 6.3 kg) and that of rams is 7-8 kg (max. 11.0 kg). The average clean wool yield is 53% (range 50-55%).
Some of the weak points of the breed are a low wool yield, poor cover of the belly and uneven fleece and staple fineness. Further breeding and selection are aimed at eliminating these faults.
Lambing rate is 115-130 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
The best flock of this breed is on Uzunbulakski breeding state farm named after V.I. Lenin and N. Krupskaya in Alma Ata region.
The breed is recommended for raising in some districts of Alma Ata, East Kazakhstan, Karaganda, and Pavlodar regions of the Kazakh SSR.
The State Flockbook lists 634 ewes and 24 rams.
The Kazakh Finewool was bred on the Mynbaev experimental farm of the Kazakh SSR between 1931 and 1946. The breed is based on the flock of fat-rumped ewes from the former Kargalinsky breeding farm, which were mated to finewool, chiefly Rambouillet and Précoce, rams. The aim was to obtain a new breed that would combine the valuable qualities of the Kargalin variety of the Kazakh Fat-rumped sheep (large size, hardiness and adaptation to local conditions) with wool qualities of the Précoce. The breed was developed in the severe climatic conditions of southern Kazakhstan (Alma-Ata region). Ewes and lambs used to subsist on pasture throughout the year; they received supplemental feeding only when there were snowdrifts or pastures were covered with ice.
In the first stage, fat-rumped ewes were mated to Précoce rams; after selection and culling the offspring of the first and the second generations were bred inter se. Most of the offspring of the first crosses bred inter se had thin, overdeveloped, brittle wool, weak in fibre, and the belly was poorly covered. Therefore, since 1939, local ewes with fine wool were crossed with American Rambouillet rams. Further selection produced a flock of sheep of the desired type. Finewooled sheep of the flock had high productive qualities and in terms of their adaptability to local conditions were not inferior to fat-rumped sheep.
Numbers have increased considerably since 1964. The total in 1980 was 3 475 799 (92% purebreds) including 55 642 breeding rams, 18 915 other rams and 2 616 652 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of the Kazakh Finewool breed have good meat and wool production, a high carcass weight, and are suitable for a transhumance system of management. They have a large body size, strong constitution and skeleton and good conformation. Most sheep do not have skin folds or wrinkles. Both rams and ewes are hornless. The body is somewhat elongated; the meat conformation is well pronounced.
The live weight of ewes is 60-65 kg (max. 105 kg) and that of rams is 105-118 kg (max. 140 kg). The weaning weight of ewe lambs is 27-32 kg and that of ram lambs is 30-34 kg. Sheep mature early; by the age of 18 months rams weigh 71% and ewes 86% of the mature weight. In fat wethers the yield of meat and fat reaches 42-47 kg or 55%.
In wool character and fleece structure Kazakh Finewool sheep are similar to the Précoce. The wool is white, usually strong. The fleece has a closed blocky staple; the outer staple is somewhat loose. The crimp is normal, often somewhat large in size. The wool is of 60s-64s quality; a negligible proportion of the wool is of 70s quality. The ewe's wool is 7-8 cm long and ram's is 8-9 cm long. Yolk is light yellow. Fleece weight is 4.3-5.5 kg from ewes and 10-11 kg from rams. Clean wool yield is 50%.
Lambing rate is 105-135 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
The best flocks of Kazakh Finewool sheep are raised at Mynbaev, Kastekski and Sary-Bulakski breeding centres in the Kazakh SSR.
Further breeding is aimed at increasing fleece weight and improving wool quality, while preserving and increasing the large size and live weight, and perfect adaptation to the severe semi-desert conditions.
The State Flockbook lists 3119 ewes and 260 rams.
The Volgograd breed was formed between 1932 and 1978 on Romashkovski state farm in Volgograd region by crossing coarsewooled fat-rumped ewes with finewool rams of the Novocaucasian and Précoce (Soissonnais type) breeds, with some blood of the Caucasian and, in small amounts, of the Grozny breed.
Crossbreds were first obtained by mating fat-rumped ewes to Précoce rams. Then, crossbreds of the desired type, chiefly of the second generation, were bred inter se. The offspring obtained did not meet the desired standards of wool production. Therefore, the problem was not only to improve meat qualities and achieve early maturity but to improve wool production as well. To achieve this, rams of the Caucasian and, in some case, of the Grozny breed were used since 1948. Selection and rigid culling produced a stock of sheep of a new type, which in 1978 were approved as a new breed with the name Volgograd.
The number of sheep of this breed has increased from 22 616 in 1964 to 614 338 (20% purebreds) in 1980 including 2395 breeding rams, 5477 other rams and 412 726 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of the Volgograd breed are large in size and have well-pronounced meat features and a harmonious conformation. Withers height is 68-70 cm and oblique body length 70-73 cm. Ewes and most rams are polled. Sheep have no wrinkles, except an apron or a skin fold on the neck. Withers, back and loins are wide and the back is level. The body is compact; the legs are strong, correctly set, and the thighs are full.
Volgograd sheep combine meat and wool production. The live weight of ewes is 58-65 kg and that of rams is 110-125 kg. They mature sufficiently early; the live weight of lambs at weaning is 30-35 kg and by the age of one year ewes reach 80% of their mother's weight. Rams at the age of 7-9 months produce carcasses of 20-24 kg.
The wool is white; density (by feel) and uniformity are satisfactory. The fleece has a blocky staple; it is closed and of medium density (by measurement). The outer staple has predominantly the shape of small squares in cross-section. The crimp is distinct, uniform, and somewhat open. The wool is of 60s and 64s quality. The ewe's wool is 8-9 cm long and ram's is 9.5-10.5 cm. Yolk is in light colour, particularly light cream. The head is covered with wool down to the eyes and the legs down to the knees and hocks. Fleece weight of ewes is 5.5-6.0 kg and that of rams is 12-15 kg. The clean wool yield is 48-50%.
Lambing rate is 130-160 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing. The milk yield is good: 95-105 kg of milk from ewes with one lamb and 145-150 kg from those with twins.
The best flocks of this breed are raised on Romashkovski breeding state farm, and on Pallasovski, Eltonski, Druzhba and Sorok Let Oktyabrya state farms in Volgograd region.
Further breeding is aimed at eliminating some dryness of the wool and making the fleece more uniform in fineness.
Tsigai sheep are widespread in many countries of the Balkan Peninsula. To Russia they were imported from Romania in 1914 by Transylvanian sheep breeders.
Tsigai sheep have a strong constitution, hardiness and low feed requirements. Thanks to these characteristics they are raised successfully in regions with varied natural conditions. According to the Breed Distribution Plan the main flocks of the Tsigai sheep are in Crimea, Saratov and Rostov regions, in Moldavia and in Kazakhstan.
Numbers increased by about one-third between 1964 and 1980. The total is now 4 149 688 (62% purebreds) including 120 344 breeding rams, 28 171 other rams and 2 922 757 ewes and yearlings.
Due to differing selection aims Tsigai sheep vary from one part of the country to another. For example, in Crimea, Saratov and Rostov regions a wool-mutton type is bred, in Moldavia a wool-mutton-milk type and in Donetsk region of the Ukraine a mutton-wool type. However, in spite of these differences Tsigai sheep of all groups have much in common in constitution and productivity.
They have strong constitution and rugged bone. The head is clean-cut, of medium size; the rams are horned and the ewes hornless. The chest is deep, the back broad and straight; the shoulders and the rump are wide. The body stands on strong legs with tough hoofs. The face and legs are wooled the former down to the eyes, the latter up to the knees and hocks. The hair on face and legs is white.
The fleece has a tippy staple. The wool is white, uniform and elastic; the fineness grade is 56-46s and the staple length 9-10 cm.
Animals are not large: the live weight of rams is 85-95 kg, that of ewes 45-50 kg. The fleece weight of rams is 6.5-7.5 kg and of ewes 3.5-4.0 kg with 56-58% clean wool yield.
Animals of the mutton-wool type (Priazov) are distinguished by a higher performance. The rams have a live weight of 100-110 kg, the ewes 55-60 kg. The fleece weight is 7.5-8.5 kg for rams and 4.0-4.5 kg for ewes, with a clean wool yield of 56-60%.
The pelts of the Tsigai sheep are of great importance for the fur industry because they have good dense even wool, and firm inner surface. The pelts are used for manufacturing fur articles.
Tsigai sheep have a high milk production - they yield 100 litres of milk for 4 lactations.
The best breeding flocks of the wool-mutton type are concentrated on the breeding farms Chernomorsk in Crimea, Algai in Saratov, Orlov in Rostov regions and the mutton-wool type in Rosa Luxemburg breeding centre in Donetsk region. In all these flocks pure breeding with line breeding is used.
On 1 January 1980, 19 900 sheep, including 583 rams, were registered in the State Flockbook.
This breed was developed between 1931 and 1949 on Udabno State Farm in Sagarejo district of the Georgian SSR.
Some 80% of sheep in Georgia are raised in transhumance systems. They winter on low altitude steppe ranges and then moved to summer mountain pastures which lie at altitudes of 2000 to 3000 m. Summer ranges are sometimes 200-500 km away from winter quarters; it usually takes one or two months to travel between them.
The Tushin used to be the main breed of sheep in eastern Georgia. This breed required improvement in wool production. Attempts to grade the Tushin to recognized finewool breeds were unsuccessful. Only first generation crosses had a heavier fleece (30-50%) than Tushin sheep and were not inferior to them in hardiness. Crosses of later generations lost the fat tail and therefore became less hardy.
Observations of local breeds, between 1931 and 1933, at the Kommunisgzit collective farm of the Tsiteli Tskaro district showed that Tushin sheep could not be improved by grading up but by crossbreeding aimed at forming a new breed.
The aim was to obtain fat-tailed sheep with uniform wool, strong, hardy and suitable for the severe conditions of transhumance husbandry where sharp seasonal fluctuations in forage supplies may occur.
Local crosses, which were available at the former Gyaurarkhski regional sheep experiment station, were chosen as foundation stock. These sheep were obtained by crossing Tushin ewes with Rambouillet and Précoce rams. In 1936 the experimental flock was transferred to Udabno state farm.
The success of the operation was due to one second generation ram born in 1935. It had a well-developed fat tail and uniform, sufficiently even, semifine wool. It transmitted these characteristics to its offspring and therefore was widely used on crosses of the first and second generation (i.e. first crosses and backcrosses to the finewool ram). At the same time this ram was mated to the best Tushin ewes in order to obtain offspring free of certain weak points which were inherent in this ram, i.e. a low-slung fat tail that made it difficult for it to walk in the mountains, and coarse wool. Long-term breeding resulted in a group of sheep which met the desired standards. This group was approved as a new breed. It numbered 9633 in 1964 but only 2104 in 1980 including 59 breeding rams and 1250 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of this breed are of medium size and white in colour. Rams are horned; ewes are polled. In conformation they are similar to the Tushin but finer boned. In major parameters, they surpass the Tushin but in lambs the differences are less distinct than in adults. In shape and size the fat tail is similar to that of the Tushin. Some have even larger tails due to larger bodies and higher live weight.
Organoleptic evaluation has shown that in terms of appearance, colour, smell, quality of meat and fat, and palatability the meat of these Georgian sheep is not inferior to that of Tushin sheep.
Georgian Semifinewools have a strong constitution, fine but strong bone and proportionate conformation. The legs are set corectly and the hoofs are hard.
The fleece has a blocky staple. The wool is white and uniform, with a crossbred crimp. Average fleece weight is 3.2-3.5 kg and clean wool yield is 50-52%. The wool is predominantly of 50s-56s quality, strong, and 9-12 cm in length. The density of ram's wool is 2240 fibres per cm and that of ewe's is 1941; in some animals it exceeds 4000.
It should be noted that more than 70% of all sheep and 58% of ewes during lactation are subject to wool shedding. Wool chiefly falls out at the time when ewes need more nutrients. Predisposition to wool shedding is hereditary. Three factors (feeding, heredity and season) affect the coat shedding of sheep of this breed.
The average live weight of adult ewes is 48.4 kg (max. 70 kg), and that of rams is 82.0 kg (max. 125 kg). In August young wethers from the winter lambing had a live weight of 36 kg (max. 49 kg). The carcass weight of adult ewes is 20-21 kg, with more than 2 kg of tail fat.
Some 110 lambs are dropped per hundred ewes lambing. Lamb crop is 90-93% at the beginning of the year. This shows that sheep of this breed are well adapted to transhumance husbandry. They are raised on some farms in Georgia and have been exported to the Dagestan, Checheno-Ingush, North Ossetian, Kabardino-Balkar ASSRs, and to the Mongolian People's Republic where they are used for producing fat-tailed sheep with uniform wool, suitable for semi-desert conditions.
By producing this breed scientists have proved that it is possible to breed sheep which have both fat tails and uniform semifine wool. Further breeding is aimed at increasing the stock, improving productivity, and eliminating wool shedding.
This breed was produced between 1936 and 1948 on farms of Kuibyshev region by crossing Cherkassy coarsewooled and the now extinct Vagas semifinewooled ewes with Romney Marsh rams. The former have large size (live weight in autumn is up to 56 kg) and a satisfactory clip of long wool. The offsping combined the adaptability of local breeds with the high meat and wool production of the improver breed. Crossing with Romney rams continued mainly until the second generation since further grading did not increase productivity. On the contrary, it weakened the constitution and reduced viability. Crosses of the first and second generations were divided into two groups - desired and undesired. The chief criterion was uniformity of fleece. Ewes of the desired type were mated to the best second-generation rams of the desired type. Regardless of generation, sheep of the undesired type (with semicoarse and partly with coarse wool) were again mated to purebred Romney rams.
At present the Kuibyshev breed is included in the breed regionalization plan and accordingly is raised in Kuibyshev and Ulyanovsk regions and in the Tatar and Mordovian ASSRs. The numbers of sheep of this breed have declined slightly since 1964. In 1980 there were 255 205 (52% purebreds) including 4308 breeding rams, 768 other rams and 187 666 ewes and yearlings.
In appearance and conformation sheep of the Kuibyshev breed are similar to the Romney. They have a strong constitution and a barrel-shaped and somewhat elongated body. The legs are relatively short. They have a broad head, short neck, muscular shoulders, wide and level back and loin, full and deep thighs. Both rams and ewes are hornless.
The fleece has a tippy staple. The wool is white and even, of 56s-48s quality. Staple length is 12-14 cm. Fleece weight is 6-7 kg for rams and 3.5-4.5 kg for ewes. The clean wool yield is 55-65%.
The live weight of rams is 90-110 kg (max. 164 kg) and that of ewes is 63-64 kg (max. 117 kg). Kuibyshev sheep mature early. When fed intensively, lambs at the age of 6-7 months reach 40-50 kg, with the carcass yield being more than 50%. Over the ages of 6.5 to 8.5 months, some 6.77 to 8.65 fodder units are required to produce one kilogram of weight gain.
Lamb crop is 120-130%.
In the process of breeding 8 ram lines were obtained; the last 3 were approved in 1977.
The best flock of the Kuibyshev breed is on Druzhba breeding state farm in Kuibyshev region.
On 1 January 1980, the State Flockbook listed 820 sheep, including 70 sires.
The breed was recognized in 1978. Within the breed there are two types: the Liski, which includes the Nizhnedevitsk, and the Kalinin.
Liski sheep were produced in Voronezh region by crossing Mikhnov coarsewooled ewes with Lincoln rams and backcrossing to the Lincoln. Then sheep of the desired type were selected and bred inter se. The breeding work began in 1936.
Sheep of the desired type are large in size; withers height is 75.2 cm in rams and 65.8 cm in ewes. The constitution is strong. The skeleton is well developed. Live weight of rams is 95-105 kg and that of ewes is 56-65 kg. These sheep have wide back and loin, somewhat sloping rump, short and thick neck, and full chest. The legs are of medium length, corectly and widely set and the hoofs are hard. Both rams and ewes are hornless. There is a charcteristic tuft of wool on the forehead covering the eyes. The hair on the head and legs is white, with small dark spots.
Fleece weight is 6.0-6.5 kg for rams and 3.5-4.8 kg for ewes. Clean wool yield is 61-65%. The wool is white and uniform, of 44s-50s quality. Staple length is 14-16 cm. The fleece hangs in locks; some sheep have a semi-open staple.
Liski sheep mature early. with intensive feeding, young wethers can reach a live weight of 50 kg at the age of 6 months; with a carcass weight up to 24.6 kg and slaughter yield of 49.8%.
The best flocks of Liski sheep are on Kolybelski breeding state farm and on the breeding farms of Rodina, Rossia, and Dinovgorye collective farms in Voronezh region. The breeding flocks of these farms have five genealogical groups.
Kalinin sheep were obtained by crossing coarsewooled Northern Short-tailed ewes with Lincoln rams until second generation crosses were obtained. Then sheep of the desired type were selected and bred inter se. The breeding work began in the Kalinin region in 1937.
Sheep of the desired type have a strong constitution and a well-developed body frame. They are large in size: withers height of rams is 77.3 cm and that of ewes is 69.7 cm. The back, loin and rump are wide; the chest is wide and deep; the ribs are well sprung, and the head is relatively short. Both rams and ewes are predominantly polled. The hair on the legs and face is chiefly white.
Live weight of rams is 100-110 kg and that of ewes is 51-65 kg. Average fleece weight is 6.2-6.3 kg for rams and 3.3-4.2 kg for ewes. The wool is white and uniform, of 44s-50s quality. Staple length is 15-18 cm. The fleece structure is similar to that of Lincoln sheep, i.e. the wool hangs in pointed locks.
Fecundity, inherited from the Northern Short-tailed, is high: 140-150 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
The number of sheep of the Russian Longwool breed has doubled since 1964. In 1980 the total was 215 627 (83% purebreds) including 2442 breeding rams, 2691 other rams and 157 719 ewes and yearlings.
The best flock of Kalinin sheep is on Sakharovo experimental farm in Kalinin region, which has six genealogical groups.
This breed was formed in Alma-Ata region of Kazakhstan during 1931-80. Local coarsewool ewes were mated to imported Shropshire and Précoce rams. The objective was to combine high meat-fat performance with improved wool quality, while preserving good adaptability to range conditions in an extreme continental climate with temperatures reaching +45°C in summer and -44°C in winter. The annual rainfall does not exceed 135 mm; 70% of days are windy with the wind speed ranging from 2 to 4.2 metres per second.
The first experiments on mating Kazakh Fat-rumped ewes to Shropshire rams were conducted at Degeres state farm. Crosses were produced with a small rump (44.5%) or short fat tail (55.5%) and relatively even, white, bright semicoarse wool of 15-17 cm staple length.
During 1931-36 Mynbaev Experimental Farm of the Kazakh Animal Breeding Research Institute mated local coarsewool ewes to semifinewool Shropshire x fat-rumped cross rams; subsequently Précoce blood was introduced, in the form of fat-tailed Précoce x fat-rumped crosses, to increase wool yield and quality.
Later (1944-55) Oktyabrski state farm in Taldy-Kurgan region, started the formation of fat-rumped sheep with even, semifinewool and this was continued, since 1965, on Bakanasski state farm in Alma-Ata region. Précoce x fat-rumped ewes and Degeres rams bred on Mynbaev Experimental Farm were used.
Many years of work have resulted in a semifinewool breed with good meat-fat traits.
In 1980 the breed numbered 123 800 including 3100 breeding rams and 91 600 ewes and yearlings. The Degeres is bred in southern and southeastern regions of Kazakhstan where local coarsewool fat-rumped sheep are raised.
Degeres sheep have a large, broad and compact body. They are usually polled but some have scurs and a few are horned. The head is of medium size with a slightly Roman nose. The neck is short and muscular. The chest is deep and the sacrum is broad. The skeleton is strong. The rump is of medium size and raised; some rams have a slightly pendant rump. The weight of the rump is 2-3 kg in ewes and 4-6 kg in rams.
Body measurements are a bit less than those of Edilbaev sheep. Average withers height is 77.5 cm (rams) and 70.9 cm (ewes); oblique body length is 80.2 cm and 75.1 cm respectively; chest depth is 40.2 cm and 35.7 cm; chest width is 24.9 and 21.0 cm; chest girth is 100.7 and 99.6 cm.
Fleece is tippy. Wool is white, even, bright. Wool of newborns is generally brown or tan but it becomes white by the time of weaning. Hair coat on the head and legs does not change its colour. Wool is of 48s and 50s quality (70%). Staple length is 12-17 cm (rams) and 9-14 cm (ewes). Fleece weight is 6.5-7.8 kg (11 kg maximum) for rams and 2.5-4.9 kg (7.5 kg maximum) for ewes, with clean wool yield of 58-62%.
The live weight of rams is 101-110 kg (138 kg maximum) and ewes weigh 58-66 kg (102 kg maximum); 4-4.5-month-old lambs weigh 30-35 kg, reaching 35-40 kg in favourable years. At this age the daily live-weight gain is 256-280 g in males and 225-250 g in females. Seven-eight-month-old lambs consume 7.8-8.1 feed units per kilogram of gain. The live weight of 18-month-old replacement rams reaches 76 kg or 89% of the adult live weight. Growth is over by 2.5 years of age. The carcass dressed weight is 18.0-20.3 kg (4-4.5-month-old lambs) and 35 kg (adult castrated rams); yield of rump and internal fat ranges from 4.1 to 9.8 kg; meat yield is 51-59%.
Fertility ranges between 102 and 120%. Barren ewes make up 5-6%. Young stock has good viability, mortality rate being 3.5%. The average milk yield during lactation is 96.5 kg with a range of 73.5-132.6 kg. Ewes rearing twins produce 46.5% more milk than ewes rearing singles.
There are 5 lines of rams in the breed. No. 6027 - animals typical as regards conformation, size and shape of the rump and wool yield; No. 7424 - conformation closer to that of local fat-rumped sheep, animals lively, strong, rump slightly lowered; No. 91184 - meat productivity well marked; No. 9035 - wool very thick of 48s quality, 19 cm or more long; No. 36364 - animals celebrated for compact conformation, rather wide and deep chest and well-marked meat traits.
The best sheep are kept on Bakanasski breeding state farm, Mynbaev Experimental Farm and Zhamshinski state farm (Jezkazgan region).
This breed was developed in Estonia by crossing local white-faced coarsewooled ewes with English Leicester and later with Cheviot rams, until crosses of the desired type were obtained, i.e. with uniform semifine wool, good meat traits and suited to the local conditions.
The development of the Estonian Whiteheaded breed was largely due to economic factors. Farmers of the Baltic region raised mainly semicoarsewooled sheep obtained by mating coarsewooled ewes to rams of various semifinewooled breeds. At the beginning of the 20th century the demand for mutton sharply increased and the demand for home-grown wool drastically fell since large quantities of better and cheaper wool were imported from Britain. Home-grown wool was used mainly for knitting and rug-making which required uniform semifine wool. Therefore, local sheep had to be upgraded. In order to improve local breeds, the Leicester and Cheviot were imported from Britain and Sweden. The Cheviot breed played the decisive role in producing the stock of white-faced sheep. Systematic breeding of these sheep began in 1940 and was successfully continued after the Second World War. Selection and rigid culling produced a large stock of white-faced sheep which were bred pure.
At present Estonian Whiteheaded sheep are zoned for raising in five districts of southern Estonia.
The number of sheep of this breed declined from 8112 in 1964 to 1529 (all purebred) in 1980. This figure included 92 breeding rams, 15 other rams and 1152 ewes and yearlings.
In appearance Estonian Whiteheaded sheep resemble the Cheviot. The head is of medium size, the forehead broad, the nose short, often Roman. The head is covered with lustrous hair. Both sexes are hornless. The neck is short, thick and muscular. The chest is deep and wide. The withers are high and well covered. The body is broad, deep, and somewhat elongated. The back and loin are long; the rump is wide and somewhat sloping. The tail is long, and thighs are well covered. The front legs are strong, short, and correctly set. The forelegs are covered with white wool down to the knees and the hindlegs down to the hocks.
The average live weight of rams is 68 kg (range 50-80 kg) and that of ewes is 43 kg (range 35-70 kg). The weaning weight of lambs is 26-28 kg. The annual fleece weight is 3.6-3.8 kg for rams and 2.5-2.6 kg for ewes.
The fleece has a tippy staple; yolk is white or light cream. Staple length is 10-12 cm; the wool is 48s-50s quality. Clean wool yield is 50-55%. The wool is elastic and lustrous; these traits are particularly valued in knitted goods.
Lambing rate is 120-130 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
Sheep of this breed combine uniform semifine wool of high quality with early maturity and good meat traits. They are suited to the damp climate of Estonia. At the same time they can be used on a wide scale in some regions of the Russian Federation for commercial crossbreeding to produce lambs for sale in their first year.
The State Flockbook lists 263 sheep, including 30 rams.
This breed was developed in Gorki region between 1936 and 1950 by crossing coarsewooled Northern Short-tailed ewes with Hampshire rams imported from England. Local sheep had a low productivity - live weight was 24-40 kg and the wool clip was 1-1.6 kg. Meat conformation was poor. At the same time the sheep were active and fertile. In order to improve meat and wool traits, Hampshire rams were imported in 1936. Their average live weight was 85 kg; fleece weight was 3.96 kg; the wool was of 56s quality; staple length was 6-9 cm and clean wool yield was 45-56%. The imported rams, however, did not thrive in the severe conditions of the Gorki region. Fleece weight declined and most of the rams died in 2 or 3 years.
Crossbreeding revealed that crosses of Hampshire rams had sufficiently high production and were well adapted to the environmental conditions. Therefore two crosses of Hampshire rams on the local sheep were made. The next stage was selection of crosses of the desired type and their breeding inter se.
In conformation the Gorki sheep are similar to the Hampshire. They have a deep, barrel-shaped body on short legs; the chest is deep and wide; the back, loin and rump are level and wide. The head is broad and the neck is short and thick. Both rams and ewes are hornless. The hair on the head, ears and legs is dark in colour.
The wool is uniform, of 50s-58s quality, 7.5-8.5 cm long. The fleece has a blocky staple; it is uniform in fineness. Fleece weight is low, 3.0-3.7 kg for ewes and 4.0-4.5 kg for rams. The clean wool yield is 55-65%.
Live weight of rams is 110-120 kg and that of ewes 59-67 kg. These sheep are well known for their early maturity and good food conversion. During a 4-month period young wethers consumed 4.2 fodder units to gain 173 g daily. The carcass weight was 22.6 kg, the slaughter yield 51.8% and the meat content of the carcass 85.4%.
The numbers of Gorki sheep have remained steady over the last fifteen years but the proportion of purebreds has increased. In 1980 the total number was 59 619 (89% purebreds) including 836 breeding rams, 142 other rams and 39 240 ewes and yearlings.
The best flocks of breeding sheep are on Kamenski and Khvoshchevski state farms, on Mir and Krasny Partizan collective farms and on Shcherbinki training farm, in Gorki region. There are 7 lines and 30 families.
On 1 January 1980 the State Flockbook listed 410 licensed ewes of the Gorki breed.
This breed was created between 1920 and 1940 in the Latvian SSR. Crosses of finewooled, semifinewooled, and coarsewooled ewes were mated to Shropshire and Oxford rams until animals were obtained which had uniform semifine wool and good meat traits, and were suited to local conditions.
Sheep of the desired type have a strong constitution and fine bone. Both rams and ewes are polled. The head is short and broad, the neck short and thick. The shoulders, back and loin are broad; the chest is wide and full. The legs are straight, wide apart. The head, ears and legs are covered with dark hair.
The wool is uniform; it is white on the body, but some sheep have coloured fibres. It is predominantly of 50s-56s quality. Wool length is 9.0-9.5 cm. The average wool production is 5.2-5.9 kg for rams and 3.2-3.6 kg for ewes. The clean wool yield is 55-57%.
The live weight of rams on the leading farms is 100-115 kg and that of ewes is 62-76 kg. Sheep of this breed exhibit early maturity and rapid weight gains; the average daily gain of lambs up to weaning is 210-240 g. The slaughter yield of adult sheep is 55-57% of the live weight; the finished live weight of lambs is 35-37 kg and the slaughter yield is 50-52%. The yield of first-grade meat is 72-75%. According to data from a progeny test station, one kilogram of weight gain in young animals of 9 to 12.5 months of age requires 5.4-6.8 fodder units.
Lambing rate is 120-130 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing. In individual flocks it is 160-170 lambs dropped and 150-160 weaned. The average milk yield is 120-130 kg per lactation; this is enough to feed twins.
The number of Latvian sheep has more than doubled since 1964. In 1980 there were 385 632 (65% purebreds) including 9079 breeding rams, 7264 other rams and 232 973 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of the Latvian breed are raised in the Latvian SSR, in Pskov, Novgorod and Kaliningrad regions of the RSFSR and in the Byelorussian and Ukrainian SSRs.
The best flocks of this breed are raised on Vetsautse training farm of the Latvian Agricultural Academy, on Yaunais Rits collective farm, on Eleya and Vietalva state farms, and on Saulaine training state farm.
There are 18 strains within the breed, 12 of which come from the Oxford and Shropshire. Sheep of Minka 14's family have a particularly high productivity: the average live weight of adult sheep of this family is 87 kg; fleece weight is 5.3 kg, and staple length is 9.4 cm.
On 1 January 1980 the State Flockbook listed 2530 ewes, including 120 sires.
The Oparino sheep were developed in Oparino district of Kirov region. They are only of local significance, few in number and raised exclusively on private plots in the upper reaches of the Moloma and Kirchug rivers in Kirov region. The emergence of these sheep is associated with the migration of the Letts and Estonians who come to the Oparino district from the Baltic area between 1908 and 1915 and brought with them finewooled and semifinewooled sheep (of the Merino and Lincoln breeds according to M.F. Ivanov). Later they were mated to local Northern Short-tailed sheep. Selection and rigid culling resulted in the emergence of a special mutton and wool type designated by the name Oparino.
The number of Oparino sheep has remained fairly steady since 1964. In 1980 there were 8164 (97% purebreds) including 80 breeding rams, 31 other rams and 5550 ewes and yearlings.
Oparino sheep have thin tails usually reaching to the hocks. The conformation is good. Rams are horned. Ewes are predominantly hornless. The head profile is straight. The neck is of medium length, smoothly joined with the shoulders. The chest is sufficiently deep, the back relatively broad and level, the body of medium size, the legs relatively short. The brisket is well developed and prominent. The thighs are full.
The average live weight of adult ewes is 45-50 kg and that of rams is 80-90 kg. Lambs at weaning weigh 18-21 kg. Withers height of adult sheep is 62 cm, oblique body length 66 cm, width of thighs 18 cm, chest depth 29 cm, and chest width 18 cm.
Sheep are predominantly white in colour. However, there are some whose head, legs or neck are greyish brown, chestnut, black or grey. Fleece covering is satisfactory.
The wool is uniform, semifine, of 50s-56s quality. In crimp the wool is similar to that of the Lincoln. The outer staple is close, rarely tippy. The length of one-year wool is 8.5-14 cm. The fleece has no kemp or coarse wool. Annual fleece weight is 2.0-3.5 kg for ewes and 3.5-5.0 kg for rams. Clean wool yield is 60-65%
Oparino sheep are hardy and well adapted to damp forest areas. They are resistant to foot rot in the conditions of excessive humidity. Survival and fecundity are satisfactory. The average number of lambs dropped per hundred ewes is 130-160. Mortality to weaning does not exceed 6%.
The existence of the Oparino confirms the possibility of obtaining highly productive local sheep with uniform wool and raising sheep for their mutton and wool in the country's northern regions:
The breed was produced in Stavropol territory by crossing finewool ewes with Lincoln and Romney rams. Sheep of the desired type were selected from the first crosses and bred inter se. Until 1951 breeding and selection were performed within two types, A and B. Sheep of the A type were by Romney rams and were characterized by relatively fine wool of 58s-60s quality. The wool was only slightly waved and dense, with a length of 8.5-9.5 cm. Sheep of the B type, on the other hand, had wool of 50s-56s quality, with a length of 10-11 cm. The lustre fleece was curly and of lower density. Research at the Moscow factory for primary wool processing showed that the wool of B-type sheep had better technological characteristics. Therefore, the breeding of A-type sheep stopped in 1952 and since than selection has been carried out only with regard to sheep of the B type, with the aim of improving their traits and increasing their numbers.
Sheep of the desired type have a strong constitution and are large in size: withers height is 75.6 cm in rams and 70.2 cm in ewes. Meat characters are well developed: the back and loin are wide; the chest is deep and wide and moderately prominent; the thighs are full. The head is broad and relatively short; the neck is thick and short. The legs are of medium length and strong. The set of the legs is correct. Both rams and ewes are predominantly polled.
The fleece has a tippy staple and is of medium density. The wool is white, and uniform in fineness both within the staple and over the body. Staple length is 12-13 cm; the wool is of 50s-56s quality, curly. The crimp is distinct along the whole staple length. Fleece weight of rams is 9.12 kg and that of ewes is 5.5-6.0 kg, with a clean wool yield of 55-58%.
Live weight of rams is 90-100 kg and that of ewes 55-58 kg. Forty-five well-fed yearling ewes had an average live weight of 70.1 kg and forty yearling rams 85.1 kg. The maximum live weight of yearling ewes is 85 kg and that of yearling rams is 119 kg. The average live weight of adult rams is 150 and that of ewes 129 kg. Sheep of this breed are known for their good carcass traits. For example, young wethers which were range fattened on Sudan grass from June to September and also received concentrates, averaged 200 g daily weight gain. Their carcass weight at the age of 8 months was 21.4 kg; the carcass yield was 50.1%, and the meat content of the carcass 78-79%. Lambing rate is 120-130 lambs dropped per hundred ewes lambing.
The number of sheep of the North Caucasus Mutton-Wool breed has increased four-fold over the last 15 years. In 1980 there were 1 782 847 (21% purebreds) including 37 402 breeding rams, 25 116 other rams and 1 112 902 ewes and yearlings.
Sheep of the North Caucasus breed are raised in the North Caucasus and in Ukraine and Armenia.
The best flocks are at Vostok breeding centre in Stavropol territory and on Malo-Kabardinski breeding state farm in the Kabardino-Balkar ASSR. These flocks have three lines. Each line has its special traits: one is characterized by heavy fleece weight and satisfactory live weight, another by large size and satisfactory fleece weight and the third by early maturity.
On January 1, 1980 the State Flockbook listed 1100 sheep, including 90 sires.
This breed was produced (as the Mountain Corriedale breed group) in mountain and foothill areas of North Caucasus during 1950-85. In January 1986 it was officially recognized as the Soviet Mutton-Wool breed. This area is characterized by a high level of humidity, continental climate and rough terrain. On most farms sheep are kept on a transhumance system. Until 1936 mainly coarsewooled sheep of the locakachai breed were kept there. Sheep of this breed are strong and well adapted to the difficult conditions of transhumance. However, their productivity is low: live weight is 32-38 kg and fleece weight (in two shearings) is 1.0-1.2 kg. Since 1936 local sheep were unsuccessfully mated to rams of finewooled breeds.
An expedition was sent to check the quality of the crossbreds, and in 1950 work began towards obtaining a breed of the meat and wool type. To achieve this goal crossbred finewooled ewes of varying quality were mated to rams of the North Caucasus Sheep of the desired type have a strong constitution and a well-developed frame. The body is barrel-like, with well-pronounced meat conformation. The breast is broad and deep; the back, saddle and sacrum are straight and broad. The head is broad and relatively short. Rams and ewes are predominantly hornless. The head is covered with fleece down to the eye-line. The face is covered with white hair; small dark spots are allowed on the nose and ears. The legs are strong, of medium length, and well placed. The hoofs are strong, dark-coloured or spotted, sometimes white. The forelegs are covered with fleece up to the knee, and hindlegs up to the hock. Dark spots are allowed close to the hoof.
The fleece has a tippy staple; it is of medium density. The wool is white, of uniform fineness of 50-66s quality, with large, well-pronounced waves along the entire length of the staple. The belly covering is good or satisfactory. The fleece weight of rams is 7-9 kg and that of ewes is 3.5-4.0 kg; the clean wool yield is 60-65%.
The live weight of rams is 90-100 kg and that of ewes is 50-55 kg. The Soviet Mutton-Wool has vast potentialities. 300 well-fed ewes had an average live weight of 48.7 kg at the age of 12 months and 54.7 kg at the age of 18 months; the fleece weight was 6.15 kg, with 3.7 kg of clean wool. Sheep have good slaughter qualities. The live weight of 8-8.5-month-old lambs after feeding was 18.4 kg, the dressing yield was 49.2%, and the meat yield of the carcass 81.7%.
There were 610 000 head of Mountain Corriedale sheep at 1 January 1980. The best flocks are on the breeding centres of Znamya Kommunizma, Oktyabr, 22nd CPSU Congress, and Lenin collective farms in the Karachaevo-Cherkess Autonomous Region and of the Rossia and Engels collective farms, and Spokoinenski state farm in Krasnodar territory.
There are seven lines, each with special traits of its own. Line 1053 is characterized by early maturity; line 9596 by a heavy fleece weight; line 2024 by a well-pronounced crimp; line 463 by large size and good fleece weight; line 3 by a good conformation and closed fleece, dense wool and white yolk; line 07482 by quality wool (uniformity, even and pronounced crimp, white yolk). The line of ram 6950, which comes from Australian Corriedales, is characterized by higher wool quality, white yolk, and a well-pronounced crimp along the entire length of the staple.
This breed was produced at the Tyan Shan Livestock Breeding Experiment Station in the central Tyan Shan mountains at an altitude of 2700-3000 m. In the Kara Kujer valley, where the sheep farms of the station are located, the climate is sharply continental, the average annual temperature is -1 C, and the rainfall, which occurs cheifly in summer, varies from 300 to 350 mm per annum.
The Tyan Shan breed was obtained by mating Précoce x fat-rumped crossbreds with semicoarse and semifine wool to Lincoln rams imported in 1950. When the first generation of crossbreds was obtained, animals of the desired type were bred inter se. The breed was recognized in 1966.
Sheep of this breed have a strong constitution and well-pronounced meat conformation. Both rams and ewes are hornless. The chest is broad and deep. The back, saddle and sacrum are broad and even.
The wool is white, uniform within the staple, of 56-50s quality, and even over the body. The staple length is 12-13 cm; the fleece has a tippy staple. The fleece weight of rams is 8.5-9.0 kg, and that of ewes 4-4.5 kg; the clean wool yield is 68-70%.
The live weight of rams is 100-110 kg (max. 150 kg) and that of ewes is 55-60 kg (max. 100 kg). Sheep of the Tyan Shan breed are early maturing. When adequately fed, 4-month-old lambs reach a live weight of 30-32 kg; at 7-8 months they weigh 40-43 kg and at 13 months 50-52 kg. The meat yield in lambs is 48%, and the ratio of meat to bone is 4:1.
The fertility rate of ewes is low, 110-115 lambs dropped per 100 ewes lambing. The milk yield is good: in 125 days of lactation ewes produce up to 125 kg of milk which is enough for proper development of the young.
The number of sheep of the Tyan Shan breed has increased rapidly since 1964. In 1980 they numbered 447 302 (29% purebred) including 1901 breeding rams, 6610 other rams and 326 138 ewes and yearlings.
According to the breed zoning plan sheep of the Tyan Shan breed are raised in Tyan Shan, Ak-Talin and Toguz-Torou districts of Naryn region of the Kirgiz SSR. The best flock is kept at the Tyan Shan Livestock Breeding Experiment Station: there are some 50 000 head and the average clean fleece weight is 2.6-2.8 kg. Sheep of this flock are purebred and linebreeding is employed.
The National Herdbook lists 165 sheep, including 12 rams.