Armenian Semicoarsewool Sheep
What is the history of Armenian Semicoarsewool Sheep?
The Armenian Semicoarsewool breed (Armyanskaya polugrubosherstnaya) was developed between 1931 and 1983. At present it is raised in Martunin, Ararat, Azizbekov, Ekhegnadzor and Talin districts of Armenia.
The breed was developed in the mountains at altitudes of 1200-3500 m. The rainfall is 450-750 mm and the climate is continental. More than half the agricultural lands are rough mountain pastures. In winter sheep are kept in pens for 3-5 months and receive roughage.
The local Balbas breed was used as the maternal foundation stock. Breeding followed two directions.
On Aragats state farm, Balbas ewes were mated to Rambouillet and Lincoln rams producing crosses of the first and second generations. The latter were backcrossed to Balbas rams. Prolonged selection of crosses of the desired type (i.e. with uniform semicoarse white fleece and a large underwool content) and breeding them inter se has resulted in a homogeneous flock of sheep with uniform constitutional and wool traits, designated by the name Aragats type.
Since 1952, ewes of the coarsewooled Balbas breed at large sheep raising farms in the Martunin district were mated to rams from the Aragats farm and half and quarter-blood crosses were produced. The latter were bred inter selection and culling helped to fix the valuable traits of this semicoarsewooled sheep - the Martunin type.
They have preserved the major constitutional, conformational and biological traits of the Balbas breed and, at the same time, produced more wool of higher quality.
What are the characteristics of Armenian Semicoarsewool Sheep?
Sheep of the Armenian semicoarsewool breed (Armyanskaya polugrubosherstnaya) are rather large in size and have a strong constitution and a well-developed frame.
The head is light with a straight profile.
The chest is deep but insufficiently wide.
The body is compact, the backline is straight and the rump is somewhat sloping.
The legs are strong, of medium length, with hard hoofs.
The tail is medium-sized, with two cushions of fat, and reaches the hocks.
Newborn lambs are strong; males weigh 3-4 kg and females 2.5-3.5 kg.
Lambs show rapid weight gains and by the age of 5 months males weigh 28.5-33.5 kg and females 26.0-29.5 kg.
The fleece is heterogeneous, hanging in pointed locks, white in colour, of medium density and adequate lustre.
The lock length in case of ewes is 14-20 cm, and wool fibre length is 10-14 cm.
The true wool content is 40-60 %.
The diameter of true wool fibres is 21.0-26.5 and that of intermediate and guard hair is 41.2 - 48.2 m.
Kemps are occasionally found in individual sheep. The covering of the belly is good. Fleece weight of ewes is about 3 kg (range 2.2-4.7 kg) and that of rams is 4.6 kg (range 3.2-7.0 kg).
Yearling ewes produce 2.3-3.0 kg of wool and rams 2.5-3.5 kg. The clean wool yield is 69-74%. Milk yield is good - 100-120 kg.
Ewes are usually milked for the first time when lambs reach the age of 45- 60 days; each ewe produces 30-40 kg of marketable milk with 6% fat.
What is the weight of mature Armenian Semicoarsewool Sheep?
The average live weight of Armenian Semicoarsewool ewes is 55.0 kg (range 50-68 kg) and that of rams 90 kg (range 68-116 kg).
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