Phenotypic Characterization of Sudanese Watish Desert Sheep Ewes in the Blue Nile State, Sudan
Keywords:Watish, Desert Sheep, Phenotypic characterization, Sudan
This study was conducted to generate baseline information on the phenotypic characteristics of Watish sheep breed and their production system which is a prerequisite step toward future conservation and improvements. One hundred and twenty sheep owners were selected on population density from six villages and interviewed using a semi structured questionnaire. Linear body measurements were taken, the data was classified according to age and sex then analyzed as a completely randomized setup using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The results showed that 83%, 11.9% and 4.8 % of the owners were full time livestock keepers, farmers and traders respectively. Sheep ranked top as most preferred species by owners (96.56%), goats came second (3%), cattle third (0.44%). The owner’s decision of selling animals was based on weight (91.7%), emergencies (5.6%) and age (2.8%), The most common disease problem was small ruminants plague (74%). The main constraints to sheep production activities according to respondents were availability of feed (42.9%), water (22.2%), diseases (31.7%), workers (1.6%), and security (1. 6%). The owners depended on natural range and agricultural by products as feed supplement during the dry season. Water was obtained from earth dug reservoirs (Hafirs) during the rainy season and from water yards during the dry season. Most sampled owners (94.3%) did not cross breed their Watish with another sheep breed while 5.7% said they did so. Most ewes dropped single lambs (87.9%) and 12.1% produced twins. The overall means of height at withers, body length, heart girth, tail length and neck length were 76.8cm, 68.9cm, 87.5cm, 73.2cm and 1.5cm respectively. The effect of parity was highly significant (P≤ 0.05) on heart girth while other traits were not significantly affected. The birth type significantly (P≤ 0.05) affected all traits except tail length. The study concluded that Watish has the potential to serve as a dam breed in a crossbreeding system with one of the large desert sheep breeds.