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Growth performances of Washera sheep under smallholder management systems in Yilmanadensa and Quarit districts, Ethiopia


A study was conducted to evaluate growth performances of Washera sheep under smallholder production systems in the Yilmanadensa and Quarit districts of the Amhara National Regional State, Ethiopia. Data were collected and analysed on the growth of 690 lambs owned by 110 households from October 2004 to September 2007. Weight (kilograms) of Washera lambs at birth, 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of age was 2.69 ± 0.02, 7.10 ± 0.16, 12.42 ± 0.11, 16.12 ± 0.91, 20.05 ± 0.55 and 23.47 ± 0.68, respectively. Birth weight was significantly (P < 0.05) affected by district, year of birth, parity of the dam, birth type and sex of lamb and by the interaction effect of parity by birth type and parity by sex of lamb. Weaning weight was also affected by year of birth, type of birth and sex of lamb. Yearling weight was affected by only year of birth and sex of birth. The average daily weight gain (ADG; grams) from birth to 30 days, birth to 90 days, 90 to 180 days and birth to 1 year of age was 143.37 ± 13.46, 107.09 ± 2.67, 39.78 ± 9.73 and 60.13 ± 1.89, respectively. Growth rates from birth to 30 and 90 days of age were significantly (P < 0.05) affected by birth year, birth type and sex. ADG from birth to 1 year of age was affected by lamb sex and district. The indigenous Washera sheep had faster growth rate than those sheep breeds of Ethiopia extensively studied thus far. Integrated efforts combining improved nutrition, health and participatory community-based breeding would help the smallholder farmers to utilise and conserve this immense sheep genetic resource of Ethiopia.

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    Pre-weaning growth rates = birth to 30 days and birth to 90 days; post-weaning growth rate = 90 days to 180 days of age; overall growth rate = birth to 1 year of age.


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The field research was fully financed by the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) in Ethiopia. The International Livestock Research Institute provided graduate fellowship to the first author while undertaking his M.Sc. research thesis. The authors are greatly indebted to Mr. Zerihun Taddese for his meticulous biometrics support during the data analyses. We are grateful to the staff of Andassa Research Centre of ARARI, particularly to Dr. Hailu Mazengia and Mr. Yehalem Denekew for their interest in our research and support during the field work. Mr. Tesfaye Getachew, Mr. Likawent Yiheyis, Dr. Mekonnen Tefferi and Mr. Anteneh Girma have contributed during the initiation phase of this research to which we are highly grateful for.

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Correspondence to Markos Tibbo.

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Taye, M., Abebe, G., Gizaw, S. et al. Growth performances of Washera sheep under smallholder management systems in Yilmanadensa and Quarit districts, Ethiopia. Trop Anim Health Prod 42, 659–667 (2010).

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  • Growth traits
  • Washera breed
  • Sheep
  • Smallholder management system
  • Ethiopia