The aim of this study was to compare milk production and
reproductive traits of sheep breeds in the West Bank. The data included
1711 milk records on 1243 ewes and 3682 lambing records on 1837 ewes
from the local Awassi breed, Assaf breed, Awassi x Assaf crosses, and
two Improved Awassi strains, one of which is carrying the Booroola
FecB gene. The data were collected between 2003 and 20١٠ from 21
farms covering five locations in southern West Bank (Dora, Hebron,
Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Ramallah) and three locations in northern
West Bank (Nablus, Qalqiliya, and Jenin). The results showed significant
differences (P < 0.05) in performance among and within breeds in
different locations. Milk production was highest for Awassi x Assaf in
Nablus and Jenin (least-squares means of 330.6 kg and 267.6 kg for total
milk yield in 150 d of lactation, respectively) and Assaf in Jenin (268.1
kg), and was lowest for Awassi in Jerusalem (124.6 kg). The Improved
Awassi strain carrying the FecB gene had the highest reproductive
performance (mean litter size of 1.69 lambs and mean lambing interval of
304.3d), while the lowest performance was for Awassi (mean litter size of 1.12 to 1.21 lambs and mean lambing interval of 347.3 to 416.6 d).
The means of litter size and lambing interval for the Improved Awassi strain not carrying the FecB gene were 1.28 lambs and 353.5d.
Introgression of the FecB gene may be utilized to improve reproductive
performance of sheep breeds in the West Bank, particularly Awassi.
Key words: milk yield, litter size, lambing interval, Awassi, Assaf,