Awassi sheep reproduction and milk production: review
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- Talafha, A.Q. & Ababneh, M.M. Trop Anim Health Prod (2011) 43: 1319. doi:10.1007/s11250-011-9858-5
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Awassi is the local breed of sheep in Jordan and is the most important breed in the semi-arid regions of the near east countries. Awassi ram and ewe lambs reach puberty at around 8 and 9 months of age, respectively. The breeding season of Awassi ewes starts as early as April and lasts through September. After puberty, Awassi rams are sexually active throughout the year. The normal estrous cycle in Awassi ewes is 15–20 days (average 17 days). Estrus ranges from 16–59 h (average 29 h) during the breeding season. The reproductive performance of unimproved Awassi sheep has been low while improved Awassi has the highest fertility and milk production and are the heaviest among all Awassi populations. The gestation length varies from 149 to 155 days (average 152 days). Hormones that are commonly used for induction and synchronization of estrus in Awassi ewes include progestins, gonadotropins and PGF2α. An Awassi ewe produces 40–60 and 70–80 kg of milk per 150-day lactation period under traditional and improved production systems, respectively, in addition to the suckled milk left for lambs until weaning. The improved Awassi has the highest milk production among all Awassi populations and may reach 506 L over 214-day lactation period. The objective of this review is to summarize the reproductive pattern and milk production of Awassi sheep in the Middle East region.