Exterior Body Characteristics of Indigenous Sheep Populations in Western Zone of Tigray Region, Ethiopia

Teweldemedhn Mekonnen *

Tigray Agricultural Research Institute, Humera Begait Animals Research Center, Tigray, Ethiopia.

Solomon Tesfahun

Tigray Agricultural Research Institute, Humera Begait Animals Research Center, Tigray, Ethiopia.

Medhanye Araya

Tigray Agricultural Research Institute, Mekelle Bee Research and Training Center, Tigray, Ethiopia.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


The field data collection was conducted before the ignition of the war (before October 2020) in Tigray Regional State, Ethiopia. Characterization of farm animal genetic resources (FAGRs) and their production systems are essential prerequisites for the sustainable utilization, conservation and improvement of FAGRs. The objective of the characterization work was to describe the exterior body characteristics and body indices of the indigenous sheep populations. A total of 488 (Begait-173, Rutanna-151 and Arado-164) sample animals with one permanent pair of incisor (1PPI) up to four permanent pair of incisors (4PPI) were randomly involved in the field data collection. Measurement of the quantitative traits and observation of qualitative traits were the techniques of data collection. Statistical Package for Social Sciences software was used to analyze the data. The indigenous sheep were kept at extensive production system. The indigenous sheep have marked sexual dimorphisms in almost all the linear body traits. The index of conformation (86.7±0.86) and index of body weight (61.8±0.98) of Rutanna sheep indicated that Rutanna sheep is more preferred for mutton production than the Begait and Arado sheep. Begait (93.1% plain, 99.4% white), Rutanna (90.6% plain, 69.8% brown red) and Arado sheep (86.6% plain, 51.8% brown red), respectively were the dominant coat color patterns and coat color types. Arado sheep can be used for wool production. Arado sheep were short-fat-tailed whilst Begait and Rutanna sheep were long-thin-tailed. Begait (100%) and Rutanna (99.3%) sheep were polled whereas 30.5% of Arado sheep were horned. Pendulous ear orientation was in Begait (98.3%) and Rutanna sheep whilst Arado sheep were with small ear. Concave face profile was in Begait (98.8%) and Rutanna sheep. Wattle and ruff were absent in Begait (98.3%, 91.9%), Rutanna (80.8%, 100%) and Arado (76.2%, 98.8%) sheep, respectively. Roofy rump profile was exhibited in Begait (86.7%), Rutanna (63.1%) and Arado (87.8%) sheep. Overall, Rutanna sheep is large framed whilst Begait sheep is medium framed and Arado sheep is small framed breed. Conservation and improvement of the valuable indigenous sheep of the study area should be the first task of breeders and stakeholders. Genetic characterizations of the indigenous sheep populations should be conducted to identify the most economical candidate genes and diversity within breed.

Keywords: Characterization, indigenous sheep, morphostructural traits, traits, body indices, sheep, body traits, sheep populations

How to Cite

Mekonnen , T., Tesfahun, S., & Araya , M. (2024). Exterior Body Characteristics of Indigenous Sheep Populations in Western Zone of Tigray Region, Ethiopia. Asian Journal of Research in Animal and Veterinary Sciences, 7(2), 134–149. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajravs/2024/v7i2293


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