10. Strategies to increase sheep production in East Africa.
In: FAO Animal Production and Health Paper 58; FAO, Rome, Italy; pp. 118-123
Sheep in eastern Africa are managed in traditional systems. The end product is almost entirely meat, either for home consumption or to an internal or external market through sales. In parts of Sudan, sheep are also kept to provide milk.
In most traditional societies, first lambing occurs at 15-18 months when ewe weights are 80-85 per cent of mature size. Control of age at first breeding usually means delaying this and may result in first lambing not taking place until 2 years or older.
Total lifetime production of young can be increased by encouraging first lambing at early ages.
The growth rate is an important factor in livestock productivity. In traditional systems, because of overstocking, genetic potential is rarely expressed. Growth rates vary from as little as 40 g per day in Kenya Masai sheep to as much as 70 g per day in Sudan Desert type from western Sudan.
As an example of the potential for increased growth under improved conditions of nutrition and management, the "Mouton de Case" sheep in West Africa achieves a growth rate of 117 g per day to 40 weeks of age compared with only 60 g for its range-reared contemporaries.
Management practices in many traditional societies are such that the best adapted sheep or those with superior genetic potential are not used as breeding stock. This is because of the cultural or religious requirements for large fat sheep for slaughter at social and sacrificial occasions.
Pre-weaning mortality has been shown to be an extremely important constraint on productivity of sheep. Levels of up to 30 or even 40 per cent losses before weaning are not uncommon.
The standard approach to improving the supposedly unproductive indigenous African sheep types has been to import exotic breeds, usually of European origin.
There have rarely been successful transfer of these breeds to traditional systems. In East Africa, successes have almost entirely been confined to those cases where modern management practices can be assured and high levels of veterinary and nutritional inputs maintained.
Identifying these practices and abilities and extending them to other owners would lead to overall improvement. A plan for improvement of a traditional flock with the minimum of outside and costly interventions is shown in this paper.
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Pacific, Solomon Islands, pig production, compound feeds, pig feeds
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