The aim of this study was to characterize phenotype indigenous sheep population in central zone of Tigray. A total of 450 adult sheep were sampled randomly for this purpose. Based on dentition adult sheep were classified into four age categories. Average BW of the sampled sheep in Tanqua-Abergelle, Kola-Tembien and Adwa districts were (20.19±0.19, 22.18±0.22 and 23.68±0.33) kg, respectively. Location had highly significant (p<0.0001) effect on body weight (BW) and most of the linear body measurements (LBM). Adwa sheep were heavier than Tanqua-Abergelle sheep, but comparable with Kola-Tembien sheep. Sex of the animal had significant (p<0.0001) effect on BW and most of the LBM. BW in rams and ewes in the study area were 23.23±0.25 and 20.81±0.13 kg, respectively. Age group had significantly (p<0.0001) affected BW and most of the LBM. The trend of BW and LBM increased with increased dentition class. Highly significant (p<0.0001) correlations were observed between BW and most of the LBM. Chest girth (CG), rump length (RL), tail length (TL) and body length (BL) were found to be the most important traits in the regression model determining male BW accounting for variability of 74%, while for female CG, pelvis width (PW) and RL were the most important traits accounting 73% of the total variability of female BW. Based on the present result one may develop selection criteria and productivity schemes of the local sheep.
Key words: Body weight, linear body measurements, quantitative trait, Tanqua-Abergelle, Kola-Tembien, Adwa
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