Characterization of production outputs and ewe flock structure of communal wool sheep in Ngqolowa, Eastern Cape

Author: T. Rust, W.J. Goosen & Z. Mbathsa
Year: 2015
Issue: 1
Volume: 8
Page: 6 - 18

A research project was initiated to evaluate aspects regarding communal wool sheep production outputs in Ngqolowa, Eastern Cape Province. Ewes and lambs of participating farmers were observed in different seasons over a period of 5 years. The project was initiated in two phases. For the first two years only training was provided to the farmers ranging from animal handling, animal health, shearing and wool classing. From year 3, farmer training continued and in addition, genetically superior rams were introduced annually in the communal flock. During the trial the ewes and lambs were weighed and the basic age structure of the flock was determined by observing the incisor teeth on the lower jaw. The reproductive status of the ewes was determined by means of ultrasound pregnancy diagnosis. The ewe component of the flock per farmer stayed more or less constant over the trial period. Average ewe weights recorded, differed significantly between the summer and winter seasons. A stepwise regression indicated that within an age group the season affected the weight of the animals more significantly than the year of measurement. The average weight of the lambs recorded increased (b = 1.63), clean yield percentage of the wool improved (b=0.013) and net mass wool produced increased (b = 79.95) over the trial period. When expressing the value per kilogram clean wool as a ratio of the market indicator, the percentage increased from 42.3% to 55.1% (b=0.03) over years indicating that the farmers earned more rand per kilogram wool produced at the end of the trial period.

Keywords: small stock; weight; age distribution; communal farmers; rangeland resource
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