Kıvırcık Sheep

What is the history of Kıvırcık Sheep?

The Kivircik is the exclusive breed of sheep in the Thracian part of Turkey (Edirne, Kirkiareli, Tekirdağ and Istanbul); it is also raised in the southern and eastern provinces of Marmara Region (Bursa, Balikesir, Çanakkale, İzmit, Sakarya) and in some Aegean provinces (Manisa, izmir, Aydin).

Early authors considered the Kivircik of Turkey and the Tsigai of southeast Europe as the same breed. According to Mason (1967), the Kivircik appears to have developed from the Tsigai breed, and is probably identical with the Karbonat breed of Bulgaria.

It also occurs in western Thrace, Greece, where it is known as Thraki.

However, Ryder and Sephenson (1968) suggest that the Tsigai originated from the Kivircik during the Turkish occupation; there are mediaeval records in Bulgaria in which the Kivircik is a named breed.

The feeding pattern is similar to that in White Karaman, but the level of nutrition is better as a result of the longer grazing season and better quality of pastures in western Anatolia and Thrace. There are also some management differences.

Mating of Kivircik ewes takes place in June and July in the southern Marmara Region, and in July and August in Thrace. Therefore lambs are available for sale long before the lambs of other breeds come to market. Most of the lambs are weaned as early as at one and a half months of age, so that ewes can be milked longer.

In Thrace, in particular, sheep's milk is mostly used for making a special kind of white cheese (Edirne cheese). Which is very popular in Turkey.

Crossbreeding of Kivircik sheep with German Mutton Merino was carried out at Karacabey State Farm, Bursa, and in the southern Marmara Region in the 1930's and led to the formation of Karacabey Merino, the first of the Merino types developed in Turkey.

What are the characteristics of Kıvırcık Sheep?

  • Kivircik is a medium-sized breed.
  • The colour of the Kivircik is white (Belka Kivircik).
  • A small proportion of the animals may have black marks on head and legs.
  • Ocassionally brown and black animals are seen in white Kivircik flock; these are probably the traces of coloured variety of the breed (Karnobat).
  • Flocks of this coloured variety, once raised in Thrace, no more exist in Turkey.
  • The tail of the Kivircik is thin and long, usually reaching the hocks.
  • In pure animals there is no fat deposit in the tail. Such a deposit at the base of the tail indicates the presence of Dağliç blood. 
  • Kıvırcık rams have horizontal spiral horns extending sideways. 
  • Kıvırcık  ewes are usually polled.
  • The ear is relatively short and extend horizontally.
  • The fleece is of carpet-wool type, but wool is of better quality than the wool of ail other local breeds.
  • Wool from young animals can be used in worsted manufacture.

What is the weight of mature Kıvırcık Sheep?

Kıvırcık ram is in the range of 60-70 kg and a mature ewe 45-55 kg. Lambs usually weigh 3.5 - 4 kgs at birth. They have an average of 1.2 lambs born per lambing, with lambs averaging 3.6 - 4 kgs at birth.

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