Ewes of Angora goats are required to produce a large amount of fleece and breed frequently during their lives. It is therefore critical to identify high-producing ewes at a young age who will sustain their production levels during their flock’s lifetime. Data on early and adult body weight, hair growth, and reproduction were collected on three South African Angora goat producers’ flocks from 2000 to 2015 in order to determine the range in production, reproduction, and income of Angora ewes with five or six kidding opportunities in the flock. The relative contributions of hair growth and reproduction to these ewes’ earnings were also investigated. Between ewes with 5 or 6 kidding opportunities, there were significant differences in hair quality, reproduction, and income. When compiling lists of top and bottom performing ewes for adult productive traits, it was clear that finding ewes who excelled in all traits would be difficult. In terms of reproduction, top-producing ewes were not top-producing ewes in terms of fleece efficiency. The negative relationship between reproduction and fleece growth was illustrated by the relative sources of income. When the relative sources of income of ewes in the top and bottom income groups were compared, it was apparent that the main difference in total yearly income was due to differences in yearly reproduction income. It was also clear that reproduction income contributed more to total income in ewes in the top 25% of income relative to ewes in the bottom 25% of income. When ewes from the Top 100 Income and Bottom 100 Income lists were compared for early and adult development and reproduction traits, the Top 100 Income ewes outperformed the Bottom 100 Income ewes. The Top 100 Income ewes had higher first parity reproduction, lifetime reproduction, early body weights (from birth to 16 months of age), lower second shearing fleece weight, and higher early fibre diameter than the Bottom 100 Income ewes. The negative relationship between adult ewe reproduction and fleece growth emphasises the importance of not prioritising early fleece weight over reproduction in positive selection pressure. Only young ewes with unacceptably low fleece weights should be culled, and ewes should not be subjected to undue selection pressure on early fibre diameter. Rather than addressing fleece production and traits through ram selection, fleece production and traits should be addressed through ram selection. Early body weight and weight of kids weaned at the first parity should also be considered when selecting young ewes.
Author (s) Details
M. A. Snyman
Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute, Private Bag X529, Middelburg (EC), 5900, South Africa.
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