Increasing the productivity of Morkaraman sheep through crossbreeding with prolific Romanov sheep under semi-intensive production systems
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of cross-breeding Turkish indigenous Morkaraman (M) ewes with prolific Romanov (R) rams on the reproduction and performance traits, growth traits, slaughter and carcass characteristics of the crossbred offspring under semi-intensive production systems. No significant differences were observed between M and RxM for number of ewes lambing. The differences between M and RxM for number of lambs born alive, number of weaned lambs, number of lambs surviving up to 120 days, and up to the end of pasture were significant. Average birth, weaning, and post-grazing weights of lambs were 3.71 kg, 17.81 kg and 23.93 kg and 2.89 kg, 17.14 kg, and 22.32 kg in M and RxM lambs, respectively. The weight difference between M and R x M lambs at birth and at the end of the grazing period was significant. M had higher end-of-pasture and slaughter weight. After the grazing period, the slaughter characteristics of ram lambs were investigated. The differences between M and RxM lambs were significant for weight of slaughter, hot and cold carcass, tail fat, and organs (testis, heart and lung). Additionally, M lambs had a larger longissimus dorsi area than RxM lambs. It was evident that the M lambs had higher growth and slaughter values and some carcass characteristics than RxM crossbred lambs. It was concluded that, under the climate and management-nutritional conditions of the region, purebred M is a more suitable breed than RxM crossbreds.
Keywords: Reproduction, growth performance, slaughter traits, carcass characteristics