Performance evaluation, carcass characterization, and palatability assessment of hair sheep



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Wether lambs and kids from five crossbred breed groups: 50% Rambouillet x 25% St. Croix x 25% Dorper (RR) (n = 20); 25% Rambouillet x 37.5% St.Croix x 37.5% Dorper (SD) (n = 19); 50% Barbados Blackbelly x 25% St. Croix x 25% Dorper (BB) (n = 20); 7/8 Dorper x 1/8 Barbados Blackbelly (DD) (n = 16); and Boer x Spanish goats (GG) (n = 20), were used to analyze dry matter intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), and feed efficiency. The animals were blocked by body weight and assigned to one of three pens per breed group. The hair sheep were fed a concentrate diet (% concentrate and primary grain/roughage) ad libitum until a common weight endpoint was obtained. The Boer x Spanish goats also were fed ad libitum, although on a pelleted diet formulated specifically for goats. The target weight endpoints for the hair sheep and goats were 53 and 36 kg, respectively. Feed was weighed daily to determine intake. Animals were weighed on day 0 and weekly thereafter to determine body weight gain and feed efficiency. The SD and RR breed groups possessed the greatest ADG (P < 0.05) out of the five breed groups, gaining approximately 0.35 kg/day. The GG and the BB group statistically gained the least weight per day (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences among the SD, RR, and DD when analyzing feed efficiency, all performing the highest in this comparison. The BB group had the poorest feed efficiency (P<0.05), requiring 6.8 kg feed for 1kg of live weight gain, and thereby performing lower than the goat group. With these findings, it is evident that breed profile somewhat played a role in performance characteristics, as the two breed groups with Rambouillet influence seemed to outperform the other groups. This, in part, could be due to the additional mature frame size that is associated with the Rambouillet genetics, thereby increasing the live weight gain of the animals.