AGRIBUSINESS: USDA Research Reveals Top Traits of Sheep Breeds

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USDA scientists have done a comprehensive evaluation of the animals used to produce market lambs. It could help sheep producers in western states get a better idea of the breeds best suited for their operations.

The scientists and university colleagues examined critical performance traits of lambs sired by rams of Columbia, Suffolk, Texel and a composite breed developed by the Agricultural Research Service. The team evaluated lamb survival, growth, body composition, efficiency and carcass merit and value. More than 1,800 lambs were produced over a 3 year period as rams from each breed were mated to Rambouillet ewes.

According to the researchers, Suffolk-sired lambs were larger at birth, grew faster and had a survival rate as good as or better than other crossbred lambs.