Indigenous goats and sheep breeds and their crosses in the tropics and subtropics: Growth traits, carcass parameters and meat quality properties
Keywords:Indigenous, Goat, Sheep, Growth traits, Carcass, Meat parameters, Tropics, Subtropics
The tropics and subtropics is a habitat to diverse populations of indigenous goats and sheep breeds known for their adaptability to the existing harsh agro-ecological conditions and the majority are reared under traditional systems of management. Apart from their inherent ability to cope with a range of climatic conditions including disease challenges and inadequate feed resources whilst being exposed to mostly unsound management practices, indigenous goats and sheep are an integral part of the smallholder resource poor rural economies. Therefore, there is an obligation and considerable potential for increased meat production from the already existing diversity of indigenous goats and sheep animal genetic resources in the tropics and subtropics. However, indigenous goat and sheep performance in most cases is less than ideal due to a number of constraints namely inadequate nutrition and disease prevalence, poor support institutional involvement and lack of adequate government policies and funding to develop this industry. It has been noted that apart from their low genetic potential, indigenous goats and sheep’s exposure to suboptimal nutrition has been identified as the major factor that contribute to their low meat production. This is despite that the principal advantage of utilising indigenous goats and sheep in the tropics and subtropics is rightfully based on their small size and ability to utilise less productive areas that exist in existing total farming areas. Their ability to adapt to suboptimal production conditions characterised by persistent substandard nutritional feed resources makes indigenous goats and sheep perfect candidates for meat production in the tropics and subtropics. The potentiality of indigenous goats and sheep in the tropics and subtropics has been downgraded because they have not been selected for high meat performance. In this case efforts are at different stages of genetic characterisation of various indigenous goats and sheep breeds in order to ascertain their meat production potential. At the same time, crossing of genetically improved exotic goats and sheep breeds with indigenous flocks, has been noted as a feasible option to enhance meat productivity in the tropics and subtropics. Recent trends in indigenous goats and sheep utilization in order to match demand for meat and improve productivity in resource poor farming areas in the tropics and subtropics, local farmers have been incentivised to rear improved genotypes, which are predominantly crossbreds between superior meat exotic breeds and the indigenous goats and sheep breeds. Productivity with regards to indigenous goats and sheep can be specified as the magnitude of production or efficiency of production. This is based on the fact that in any indigenous goats and sheep production environment, productivity per se will exceptionally depend on an intricate correlations of biotic, abiotic and socio-economic variables. The factors are interdependent and therefore should be considered comprehensively to establish their ranking and how adjustments in constituents influence the whole indigenous goats and sheep production systems. A number of studies have been carried out to assess the growth potential, carcass and meat quality properties of several indigenous goats and sheep and their crosses in various agro-ecological regions within the tropics and subtropics. The results have been inconsistent due to various reasons which might probably include non-identical production conditions and the genetics of various small ruminants’ ecotype breeding groups. The present review gives an insight on some documented growth performance and carcass and meat quality properties of indigenous goats and sheep in the tropics and subtropics.
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