Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


H. G. Thulke


Sheep breeding is mainly developed to supply the wool-processing industry with wool and to use those of the feed reserves which cannot be utilized by animal species other than sheep. The production of mutton represents only a negligible share (1 percent) of total meat production. Twenty-five to 30% of the sheep meat is produced via the fattening of lambs and growing sheep. An increase is planned in the production of sheep pelts for the processing industry.


The number of sheep is now 2,528,000. Since 1980 the population has increased by 500,000 and by 1990 it is expected to reach 3 million. Seventy percent of the sheep are raised by agricultural enterprises (State agricultural farms and co-operative farms) in 2,616 flocks of 700 animals each. Two thirds of the sheep belong to the Merinofleischschaf (mutton merino breed) and one third are Merino Longwool sheep. The mutton merino sheep are bred for the production of fine wool. The Merino-Longwool belongs to a new semi fine-wool breed which was developed since 1972 through crossing the local Merinolandschaf (Wurttemberg) with the North-Caucasian breed for meat and wool as well as with the Lincoln and Corriedale breeds and is now raised chiefly in the districts of Erfurt, Gera, Suhl, Karl-Marx-Stadt, Dresden and Frankfurt.

The rams used in the production of lambs for fattening belong to the German Black-faced meat breed (Schwarzkopfiges Fleischschaf). On the other hand, the East-Friesian milk sheep (totalling some 120,000) play a leading part on the private farms, more specifically in the Rostock district and the southern districts, Karl-Marx-Stadt, Erfurt and Dresden.

Some local sheep of the coarse-wooled “Rauhwolliges Landschaf” and Rhonschaf breeds and the Karakoul breed are also raised, though on a limited scale.


Wool production in 1984 reached 6.7 MT of clean wool at an average yield of 2.7kg of clean wool per sheep. The production of slaughter sheep (live weight) accounted for 12 to 15 kg per animal on the average.

The breeding of pedigree sheep is carried out under the “VVB Tierzucht” corporation of animal breeding, and the East-Friesian and Karakoul sheep breeding is the concern of VKSK (Association for breeders of small animals). The productivity testing of sheep with regard to wool is performed with 12-month-old sheep at Central Rearing Stations (Table 1). Adult ewes of the wool breeds have a bodyweight from 70 – 80 kg and the rams reach 110–120 kg. The two breeds are subjected to selection, aiming at the development of a combined, dual-purpose type of sheep (for wool and meat). The ewes recorded in the pedigree register yielded (in 1984) an average of 1.33lambs per mutton merino and 1.32 lambs per Merino Longwool. An average of 1.7lambs were raised per ewe in the best flocks. The ewes are first used for breeding when 19 months old.

Department of Animal Breeding and Veterinary Medicine, Karl Marx University, Leipzig.

Black-faced meat sheep are tested as lambs for average daily gain. Testing is routinally carried out from the 60th up to the 120th day of age (after weaning) (Table 2). Black-faced rams (meat breeds) are mated to ewes of mutton merino and Merino Longwool breeds for the production of hybrid lambs intended for fattening. Such lambs exhibit a 10% higher daily gain than lambs of the parent breeds.

The East-Friesian milk sheep is tested on milk-performance. A total of 3000 to 3100 ewes are recorded. Usually, 612 kg milk of 6.2% fat (37 kg of milk fat) are obtained per animal per lactation period. Animals with the highest performance give 900 kg milk with 8% fat. The ewes of the milk breed have high prolificacy (2.0to 2.1lambs born to a ewe) and are precocious. They reach 48 to 50 kg liveweight at the age of 7–8 months, and are used for breeding at this age. The wool production is also very good (3.5to 4.2 kg clean wool) and in one year the staple reaches 20 cm, and fineness is 30 to 34 μm.

Coarse-woolled local sheep (Rauhwolliges Landschaf) are still seen sporadically in the districts of Rostock (the island of Ru gen) and Neubrandenburg. These animals have mixed wool of varying colouration - from light grey to blue-grey. Black and brown wool is undesirable. These sheep are highly resistant to unfavourable climatic conditions. The ewes weigh 50 kg and yield 2.5 to 2.8 kg of clean wool.

RHon sheep have decreased in number. They are mainly raised in Suhl district. These animals are likewise resistant and of low requirements. Their wool is white and lustrous with a 12-month staple of 16 cm and in terms of quality is semicoarse. The ewes weigh 50–55 kg and yield 2.5kg of clean wool.

Goat breeding is exclusively developed by private owners. The economic value is not essential and it is led by the Association for breeders of small animals (VKSK). In 1984 there were 22,103 goats (in 1975 they numbered 52,735, and in 1981 – 20,843. Two breeds are popular - White German and “Bunte” German. The latter consists of three strains, the coat of one is dark and one is light in colour and the third is the “Thuringer-Wald-Ziege” (Toggenburg). The white breed is the most numerous while the Toggenburg numbers about 700 and the dark variety numbers between 400 and 500. A total of 895 white goats are registered in the pedigree book along with 49 Toggenburger goats and 37 of the dark strain. Dams of selected bucks should yield more than 900 kg of milk with more than 3.5% fat and selected young females should be from does which produce 800 kg of milk with over 3.3% fat.

TABLE 1. Productivity of young sheep at the age of 12 months (1984)

 Mutton Merino SheepMerino Longwool
Animals tested (n)367236360194513860
Rearing stations531120
Clean wool (kg)6.l84,516.785.19
Fineness (pm)27.02434.532*
Staple length (cm) (200 days)
Liveweight (kg)92.061.585.064.0

* As taken at random

TABLE 2. Growth rate (g/day) of Black-faced meat sheep lambs in 1984

Lambs tested (n)11421179
Daily gain during the period of testing (60–120 days of age)319233
Daily gain from birth up to the 120th day329279

TABLE 3. Recorded performance on milk yield of goats

Number of animals725736784904981
Milk (kg)992990980981974
Fats (% )3.883.983.813.843.98
Milk Fat (kg)38.5039.4037.3637.6838.72

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page