Ten U.S. sheep breeds were evaluated over a 5 year period for milk production and milk composition in a 120 day lactation trial. Ewes were machine milked 2X daily following weaning of their lambs at 30 days of age. The Suffolk was superior for milk production (80L) followed closely by the Targhee (74L), Rambouillet (72L) and two synthetic breeds (both 74L). The Finnsheep (59L) and Romanov (42L) breeds were the lowest. However, the Romanov was the highest in total solids (18.2Z).
Phenotypic variation was high with a coefficient of variation of 321 for milk production. Flock milk production could be enhanced by exploiting this variation through culling, based on a repeatability value of r=.53.
Heritability of milk production, estimated by REML procedures, was .30. This moderate value gives support to selection programs to genetically improve U.S. breeds for milk production.
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume XV. Beef cattle, sheep and pig genetics and breeding, fibre, fur and meat quality., , 92–95, 1990
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