Genetic Potential of Awassi Sheep for Growth and Meat Production
Awassi sheep which is distributed over 30 countries possesses very desirable characteristics such as endurance to nutritional fluctuation, resistance to disease and parasites, and adapted well to different ecological conditions. The economic usefulness of sheep in meat production would be enhanced by increased frequency and rate of reproduction, more efficient growth to heavier market weights and more desirable meat qualities. Growth rate of Awassi lambs particularly under feedlot is extremely good and indicating that this breed is suited for such following system. Fattening traits displays a wide range which is attributed to genetic differences between flocks and individuals, and to several other influences including different fattening periods, rations and regimes, as well as to different ages and initial weights of lambs at fattening. Heritability estimates of body weight at different ages and some carcass traits are moderate to high, and those of feed intake and feed efficiency are moderate. Such estimates warrant effective selection schemes as well as upgrading of standards of feeding and management. Moreover, much work is needed to investigate the molecular genetics of this breed in different populations in the countries of origin. Keywords - Awassi Sheep, Genetic Potential, Growth, Meat Production.