Charaterisation of Zulu (Nguni) sheep using linear body measurements and some environmental factors affecting these measurements
Data on linear body measurements (LBM) of ca. 100 Zulu sheep raised under extensive management systems at four sites in northern KwaZulu-Natal were collected over a period of 2.5 years (October 2000 to May 2003). Data were used to quantify the live weight (LW), heart girth (HG), wither height (WH) and scrotum circumference (SC) of sheep in different age groups as well as the effects of some environmental factors on their LBM. Teeth numbers were used to estimate the age of sheep. The variation in LBM was influenced significantly by the location where an animal was raised and by its age. Mature rams that have three and four pairs of incisors had LWs of 37 and 38 kg, HG of 79 and 80 cm and WH of 65 and 64 cm, respectively. Mature ewes had LWs of 30 and 32 kg, HG of 76 cm and WH of 62 and 61 cm. Differences of 15 kg, 18 kg and 22 kg in LW among sheep with full sets of milk teeth and 28 kg, 35 kg and 40 kg among mature sheep were found between populations. The SC increased with age in mature rams (three and four pairs of incisors) and was 27 cm as compared to 18 cm for younger rams. Ear size ranged from ear buds to large ears of 9 - 14 cm. However, type of ear-length was found not to have any particular influence on the variation in LBM of Zulu sheep. It was concluded that an investigation of genetic variation between the populations would be necessary to develop effective conservation and utilization programmes and strategies for the breed.
Keywords: Indigenous sheep, body measurements; scrotum circumference, extensive management
South African Journal of Animal Science Vol. 37 (1) 2007: pp. 11-20