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North European short-tailed breeds of sheep: A review

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Abstract

The short-tailed sheep, native of an area stretching from Russia to Iceland, are generally considered a primitive type. These robust northern sheep seem to have been spread by Norse vikings to several countries in this area from the late eighth century to the middle of the eleventh century ad. They have several common characteristics in addition to the fluke-shaped and tapered short tail, such as a wide range of colour patterns, dual-coated wool and the ability to thrive under harsh environmental conditions, often in isolated marginal areas. While 34 short-tailed breeds of North European origin can still be identified, it is clear that their population sizes have declined in most cases and several of them are now rare and endangered. Although these breeds have mainly been confined to certain localities, some of them have gained considerable distribution due to their genetic merits, such as prolificacy. Of these, the Finnsheep and the Romanov are best known being exported to several countries in the world where their genetic material has been utilized through crossbreeding with local sheep. This has resulted in the production of some new synthetic breeds. Meat is now generally the main product of the North European short-tailed breeds and their crossbreds, whereas wool, skins and milk are normally regarded as byproducts, yet of considerable economic importance in some cases. Such breeds have clearly a role to play in sustainable grassland-based production systems in the future.
59th Annual Meeting of the
European Association for Animal Production
Vilnius, Lithuania, 24-27 August 2008
North European short-tailed breeds of sheep : a review
Ólafur R. Dýrmundsson
The Farmers Association of Iceland
Bændahöllinni, IS-107 Reykjavík, Iceland
Tel.: +354-563-0300/0317 Fax: +354-562-3058
E-mail: ord@bondi.is Webpage: www.bondi.is
Roman Niznikowski
Warsaw University of Life Sciences
Ciszewskiego Street 8, PL 02-786, Poland
Tel./Fax +48-220-593-6549
E-mail: roman_niznikowski@aen.waw.pl Webpage: www.sggv.pl
Introduction
This review paper is based on the results of a postal / e-mail questionnaire survey, information
obtained through personal communications and on several references to North European
short-tailed breeds of sheep in books, journals and webpages. Emphasis was placed on
geographic location, distribution and present purebred population size. The economic value
and importance, as well as products and role under a range of conditions, are covered but only
brief references are made to crossbreeding which will be dealt with in more detail in another
paper (Thomas, 2008). Although information was obtained on 34 short-tailed breeds
originating in Northern Europe it should be kept in mind that several of them are now rare and
endangered and continued efforts are needed to conserve their great genetic diversity (Tapio,
2006). Breeds with North-European short-tail ancestry such as the Estonian Ruhnu, the
Estonian Saaremaa, the Lithuanian Native Coarsewooled and the Norwegian Grey Troender
sheep (Tapio et al., 2005a; Tapio et al., 2005b), and possibly the Herdwick sheep in the UK
(Ryder 1983), are not classified as short-tails, presumably due to their longer tails as a results
of crossing with long-tailed breeds. Thus they could not be included in the survey.
Breed characteristics
The short - tailed sheep native of an area from Russia to Iceland, are generally considered a
primitive type spread by Norse Vikings to several countries in this area from the late 8th
century to the middle of the 11th century A.D. (Ryder, 1983). The Soay, the most primitive
breed of sheep belonging to the Northern short-tailed group of breeds, certainly resembles the
wild Mouflon sheep. As in their ancient predecessors their fluke shaped and tapered short tail
is a common feature, however, varying somewhat in length. Normally, there are 8-10
vertebrae in the tail of short-tailed sheep (Hlídar, 1937) compared to 16 - 18 vertebrae in long
- tailed sheep (Frandson, 1974). Comprehensive studies on microsatellite variation and
genetic diversity in North European sheep breeds have been reported on in recent years
(Tapio et al., 2005a; Tapio et al. 2005b; Tapio, 2006; Eythórsdóttir, 2007). These and other
studies have demonstrated clearly several common characteristics of the North European short
2
- tailed breeds, in addition to the short tail, such as a wide range of colour patterns, dual
coated wool, robustness and prolificacy (Adalsteinsson, 1970; Maijala and Österberg, 1977;
Jakubec 1977; Ricordeau et al., 1978; Finnsheep, 1988; Fahmy, 1989; Kantanen, 2003;
Niclasen, 2007). Both polled and horned sheep are found in these breeds, in some cases sex
linked, and even fourhornedness is still known in a few of them (British Sheep, 1998;
Dýrmundsson 2005). Furthermore, they vary a great deal in size and productive performance
and although often found in isolated, marginal areas, thriving under harsh environmental
conditions, some of the short - tailed breeds perform well in milder climates (Ryder, 1983;
Villsauen, 1997; British Sheep, 1998; www.sheep-isle.dk).
The best known breeds of this group outside Northern Europe are the Finnsheep and the
Romanov which have been exported to several countries in the world where their genetic
merits, especially prolificacy, have been utilized through crossbreeding with local sheep
(Thomas, 2008). Thus they have played an important role in the production of some new
synthetic/composite breeds in several countries through hybridizations.
Distribution and size of purebred populations
Generally speaking most of the purebred North European short - tails have developed in and
are confined to certain areas or countries in Northern Europe. Thus they tend to be local
breeds with some exceptions, however. Several of them have become transboundary,
especially in Scandinavia and the UK (Ryder, 1983; Tapio, 2006) and, for example, sheep of
the Iceland breed constitute the Greenland sheep population due to exports from Iceland in the
early 20th century (Sigurdsson, 1938; Dýrmundsson,1990), with minor influence from other
breeds. In some cases certain sub-groups or strains are officially recorded within breeds, e.g.
in the German Heath Sheep (www.genres.de). On the contrary, several small, local,
populations of landrace sheep are classified and recorded as separate, heritage breeds, for
example in Sweden (Svenska almogefår, 2005).
Table 1 lists the 34 breeds on which information was obtained, named alphabetically in
English followed by the local name in brackets, if different. It should be noted that although
the country of origin of each breed is stated with reasonable accuracy this may not be the case
for the distribution in other countries. The population sizes, based on the most up-to-date
information on the number of breeding sheep (ewes+rams) in each case, should be regarded
as minimum values. For some of the breeds there are indications that a certain number, even
whole flocks, are unregistered and in a few cases feral flocks could not be included, such as of
the Boreray Sheep on the island of Boreray in the St. Kilda archipelago and Soay Sheep on
the islands of Hirta and Soay in Scotland.
In general, most of the distribution of the North European short - tails has been confine to
countries bordering on or close to the countries of origin. However, since the 1960s some of
the breeds have gained considerable distribution, especially the Finnsheep and the Romanov,
and in recent decades breeds such as the Iceland, Gotland and Shetland, especially in North-
American, as indicated in Table 1. In summary (Table 1), the total number is 872.012
breeding sheep kept in purebred populations in several countries, mainly in Northern Europe
and North America. The population size is less than 1000 head in 12 of the breeds, i.e. they
are endangered, 13 breeds are in the range of 1.000 - 10.000 sheep, 7 are in the range of
10.000 - 100.000 and only 2 are more numerous than 100.000. Comments made by several of
those replying to the questionnaire indicate that many of these short - tail populations have
been declining in numbers in their countries of orgin, some over a long period of time.
However, in some cases this negative trend has been reversed by conservation efforts and
some of the breeds have even been introduced to new countries with some success during
3
recent decades. The purebred populations sizes of the internationally best known North
European short - tailed breeds, the Finnsheep and the Romonov, 16.000 and 23.000,
respectively, are perhaps smaller than one would expect. The relatively strong position of the
Iceland breed is at least partly due to the fact it is the only breed of sheep kept in that
geographically isolated country where a strong sheep-keeping tradition exists. (Eythórsdóttir
et al., 2008).
Table 1 The status of North European short-tailed breeds of sheep:
distribution and purebred population size
Distribution Name of breed
Country of origin Other countries
Breeding sheep
n
Aland Island Sheep
(Ålandsfår)
Finland
(Aland Islands)
900
Asen Sheep
(Åsenfår)
Sweden 979
Boreray Sheep Scotland England, Wales 276
Castlemilk
Moorit Sheep
Scotland England, Wales,
Netherlands
1.042
Dala Fur Sheep
(Dala pälsfår)
Sweden 200
Faeroe Sheep
(Føroyskur seyður)
Faeroes Denmark 80.000
Finnsheep
(Suomenlammas,
Finsk lantrasfår)
Finland 40 countries in
Europe, North-America, Asia, Africa,
New Zealand
16.000
German Heath Sheep
(Heidschnucke)
Germany Denmark 9.295
Gestrike Sheep
(Gestrikefår)
Sweden 159
Gotland Sheep
(Gotlandsfår)
Sweden Denmark, Germany,
UK, USA
14.387
Grey of Kainuu Sheep
(Kainuun harmaslammas)
Finland 700
Gute Sheep
(Gutefår)
Sweden Denmark, Germany 7.000
Hebridean Sheep Scotland England, Wales 23.000
Helsinge Sheep
(Helsingefår)
Sweden 176
Iceland Sheep
(Íslenska sauðkindin)
Iceland Greenland, USA, Canada, UK,
Denmark, Norway, Germany,
Switzerland
500.000
Klövsjö Sheep
(Klövsjöfår)
Sweden 97
Manx Loaghtan Sheep England Scotland, Wales, Belgium, Netherlands 3.000
North Ronaldsey Sheep Scotland England, Wales 900
Norwegian Pelt Sheep
(Norsk pelssau)
Norway 8.000
Norwegian Speal Sheep
(Moderne spælsau)
Norway Denmark, Sweden 120.000
Old Norse Sheep
(Villsau)
Norway Denmark
20.700
Old Spael Sheep
(Gammelnorsk spælsau)
Norway Denmark 3.500
Polish Heath Sheep
(Wrzosówka)
Poland Lithuania, Belarus 4.295
Romanov
(Romanovska Ovce)
Russia Several countries in Europe, North
America, Africa, Asia
23.000
4
Roslag Sheep
(Roslagsfår)
Sweden 675
Russian Viena Sheep
(Viena Ovce)
Russia
(Karelia)
100
(estimated)
Rya Sheep
(Ryafår)
Sweden Norway 1.000
Shetland Sheep Scotland England, Wales, USA, Canada 13.000
Skuddy Sheep
(Skudden)
Germany Poland 3.700
Soay Sheep Scotland England, Wales, Germany, USA 2.000
Svårdsjö Sheep
(Svårdsjöfår)
Sweden 55
Swedish Finewool Sheep
(Svenskt finullfår)
Sweden Finland 3.669
Ushant Sheep
(Moutons d'Ouessant)
France
(Brittany)
Netherlands,
Belgium, Germany, UK
8.493
Värmland Sheep
(Värmlandsfår)
Sweden 1.814
Total = 872.112
Breed utilization, breeding practices and products
There is a great deal of variation in the national or regional economic importance of the North
European short - tailed breeds in the countries where they are kept. This may range from the
value of niche production of endangered populations of conservation breeds, such as in
Sweden, Finland and the UK, to substantial production, mainly of lamb, in Iceland, the
Faeroes and Norway. In some areas the browsing ability of such breeds is of great value in
landscape management and conservation grazing. Overall, the results of the survey (Table 2)
show that comparing the importance of the North European short-tailed breeds to other breeds
in respective countries on the scale of little, considerable great and vital, show the
numerical values 26, 3, 3 and 2, respectively. This reflects very strongly on the weak position
of several of the breeds in economic terms leaving open the question of the value of the
genetic, cultural and societal resources involved which should not be overlooked.
The incidence of crossbreeding classified as none, low, considerable and high (Table 2) is
low in 28 of the breeds and in 1 none at all, at least in the country of origin. In 3 out of the 34
breeds is crossbreeding regarded as being considerable but in only 2 is the incidence high.
The breeds crossed with are mainly meat types, i.e. lowland and terminal sire breeds of
European origin. The priority ranking of the products of the North European short-tailed
breeds shows in fact clearly (Table 2) that meat production is most important in 20 out of the
34 breeds with wool and skins being by-products. Although market trends have favoured
lamb production and the economic returns of wool and skins have declined, especially during
the last 20 years, it is interesting to note that still in 9 of the breeds first priority is given to
wool and in 5 to skins. Out of the four products meat, wool, skins and milk, milk ranked
lowest overall in all the breeds included in the survey. A few cases are known, however, of
such sheep being kept in specialized dairy units.
Table 2 The status of North European short-tailed breeds of sheep:
importance, breeding practices and products
Name of breed Importance compared
to national sheep
population
Incidence of
crossbreeding and breeds
involved
Priority ranking of the
products meat, wool,
skins and milk
Aland Island Sheep
(Ålandsfår)
little low
Finnsheep
wool
skins
meat
milk
Asen Sheep
(Åsenfår)
little low wool
skins
meat
milk
Boreray Sheep little low meat
wool
skins
milk
Castlemilk
Moorit Sheep
little low
UK lowland breeds
meat
wool
skins
milk
Dala Fur Sheep
(Dala pälsfår)
little low skins
wool
meat
milk
Faeroe Sheep
(Føroyskur seyður)
vital low
Scottish Blackface
meat
wool
skins
milk
Finnsheep
(Suomenlammas,
Finsk lantrasfår)
great High Texel, Oxford,
Down and several other
breeds in 40 countries
meat
wool
skins
milk
German Heath Sheep
(Heidschnucke)
little low meat
wool
skins
milk
Gestrike Sheep
(Gestrikefår)
little low wool
meat
skin
milk
Gotland Sheep
(Gotlandsfår)
great low
Leicester, Texel
and other breeds
skins
meat
wool
milk
Grey of Kainuu Sheep
(Kainuun harmaslammas)
little low skins
wool
meat
milk
Gute Sheep
(Gutefår)
little low
Texel
meat
wool
skins
milk
Hebridean Sheep considerable considerable
Suffolk, Texel,
Charollais and other
terminal sire breeds
meat
wool
skins
milk
Helsinge Sheep
(Helsingefår)
little low wool
skins
meat
milk
Iceland Sheep
(Íslenska sauðkindin)
vital
(only breed in Iceland
and Greenland)
none in Iceland,
low in other countries
meat
wool
skins
milk
Klövsjö Sheep
(Klövsjöfår)
little low
Gute Sheep
wool
skins
meat
milk
Manx Loaghtan Sheep little low
UK terminal sire and long-
wool breeds
meat
wool
skins
milk
North Ronaldsey Sheep little low meat
wool
skins
milk
Norwegian Pelt Sheep
(Norsk pelssau)
little low skins
meat
wool
milk
Norwegian Speal Sheep
(Moderne spælsau)
great low
Iceland Sheep, Finnsheep
meat
wool
skins
milk
Old Norse Sheep
(Villsau)
little low meat
skins
wool
milk
Old Spael Sheep
(Gammelnorsk spælsau)
little low meat
wool
skins
milk
Polish Heath Sheep
(Wrzosówka)
little low
Polish and other
lowland breeds
skins
meat
wool
milk
Romanov
(Romanovska Ovce)
little high
mainly several meat breeds
in many countries
meat
wool
skins
milk
Roslag Sheep
(Roslagsfår)
little low wool
meat
skins
milk
Russian Viena Sheep
(Viena Ovce)
little low meat
wool
skins
milk
Rya Sheep
(Ryafår)
little low
Texel and other meat
breeds
wool
meat
skins
milk
Shetland Sheep considerable considerable
North Country Cheviot,
also Suffolk and other
terminal sire breeds
meat
wool
skins
milk
7
Skuddy Sheep
(Skudden)
little low meat
wool
skins
milk
Soay Sheep little low
UK lowland breeds
meat
wool
skins
milk
Svårdsjö Sheep
(Svårdsjöfår)
little low wool
skins
meat
milk
Swedish Finewool Sheep
(Svenskt finullfår)
considerable considerable
Texel, Oxford Down and
other terminal sire breeds
wool
meat
skins
milk
Ushant Sheep
(Moutons d'Ouessant)
little low meat
wool
skins
milk
Värmland Sheep
(Värmlandsfår)
little low meat
wool
skins
milk
Discussion and conclusions
In spite of the fact that purebred populations of the North European short-tailed breeds have
been declining over a long period of time, and are now endangered in several cases, they
should not be looked upon as relics from the past. Although adapted to certain local / regional
conditions in the Northern Hemisphere, at least some of these breeds have much to offer in
the international context and a few have already done so, especially in relation to prolificacy
and mothering ability. They can improve the efficiency of production of both quality food and
fibre, not least in grassland-based, low-energy input and easy-care systems. Even the short
tail, eliminating the need for docking, has its value, at least from an animal welfare point of
view. Then there are certain genetic traits of less obvious economic value such as the unique
ability of North Ronaldsey sheep to feed almost entirely on seaweed (Ryder, 1983) and the
leadersheep behaviour which has evolved in a strain of the Iceland breed (Dýrmundsson,
2002). Let us keep in mind that genetic diversity is now recognized internationally as a
valuable resource (Finland, 2003) and this is reflected in the work of the EAAP and the FAO
in Europe and elsewhere, in harmony with sustainability criteria. Comprehensive data banks
are being established, such as the EFABISnet, and cryopreservation is also in progress. As far
as the North European short-tailed breeds are concerned there are certainly cases of
endangered breeds being saved from extinction, such as Old Norse Sheep (Villsau) in
Norway, Grey of Kainuu Sheep (Kainuun harmaslammas) in Finland, Polish Heath Sheep
(Wrzosówka) in Poland and Castlemilk Moorit Sheep in the UK. Individual breeders,
breeders groups and bodies, such as the Nordic Gene Bank for Domestic Animals in the
Nordic Countries and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK, have indeed contributed
significantly to the conservation of these and other breeds. Research bodies have also made
valuable contributions, unusual qualities have been revealed from recorded data (British
Sheep, 1998), single genes inhancing production have been discovered (Eythórsdóttir et. al.,
2008) and there is a good reason to believe that a larger number of valuable traits will be
identified through scientific studies thus making the breeds more attractive and competitive in
modern sheep farming. Dýrmundsson, (2006) has pointed out that sheep production systems
8
in Northern Europe fulfil most criteria of sustainability in agriculture. The North European
short - tailed breeds certainly fit well into that picture. The results of the survey presented
above may somewhat simplify the status of the North European short-tailed breeds. However,
it is a matter of concern how small most of the purebred populations are. Many of these
breeds, parhaps all of them, or genetic material derived from them, should have a future role
to play in sustainable grassland-based production systems. Therefore we conclude by
proposing that we should discuss, amongst other things, how best the genetic resources of the
North European short-tailed breeds can be managed and utilized, both in pure - and
crossbreeding, because this is the most effective way of preserving and delivering them to
future generations of sheep farmers.
Acknowledgements
The authors thank the following for giving useful sheep breed information from their countries:
Anton Pinschof (France)
Birgit Boberg (Sweden)
Charles H. Rose (Greenland)
GEMO, Ushant Sheep Breeding Society (France)
Gert Nieuwhof (United Kingdom)
Gunnar Bjarnason (Faeroes)
ISBONA, Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America (Canada and United States of America)
Jackis Lannek (Sweden)
Jayne Drinkwater (United Kingdom)
Jill Tyrer (United Kingdom)
Jim Johnson (United Kingdom)
Kjeld Malthe - Bruun (Denmark)
Kreg Leymaster (United States of America)
Lars Erik Wallin (Norway)
Lawrence Alderson (United Kingdom)
Lindsey Tapp (United Kingdom)
Maija Häggblom (Finland)
Maria Ericson (Sweden)
Marja- Leena Puntila (Finland)
Mark Joung (New Zealand)
Matthias Gauly (Germany)
Patrick Miossec (France)
Peter Hardman (United Kingdom)
Sergeij Kharitonov (Russia)
Ulla Savolainen (Finland)
Vicky Mason (United Kingdom)
Zhivko I. Duchev (Germany)
9
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Also international data banks: http://efabis.tzv.fal.de
www.tiho-hannover.de/einricht/zucht/eaap
... Les moutons à queue courte d'Europe du Nord constituent un groupe de races dont l'introduction remonte à 6000 ans environ (Ryder, 1991;Trow-Smith, 2013). Elles ont ensuite été dispersées par les Vikings entre le 8 ème et le milieu du 11 ème siècle sur une aire allant de la Russie à l'Islande (Dýrmundsson and Niżnikowski, 2010;Ryder, 1983). Des études génétiques ont montré que ce groupe a été fondé par une population qui s'est ensuite fragmentée (Tapio et al., 2005). ...
... Avec le temps, ces populations isolées au Nord se sont différenciées en races et ont perdu leur diversité (Handley et al., 2007;1 Tapio et al., 2005). Ce sont des races locales dont la répartition actuelle est proche de celle d'origine (Dýrmundsson and Niżnikowski, 2010;Ryder, 1983;Tapio et al., 2006b) à l'exception de la Finnsheep et de la Romanov qui ont été beaucoup utilisées pour augmenter la fertilité d'autres races depuis les années 60 (Fahmy, 1989;Jakubec, 1977;Oltenacu and Boylan, 1981;Ricordeau et al., 1978;Thomas, 2010). Un peu plus récemment, les races Islandaise, Gotland et Shetland ont été utilisées hors d'Europe, particulièrement en Amérique du Nord. ...
... Les productions sont plutôt axées sur la laine et la viande alors que la production laitière reste marginale. Certaines races interviennent aussi dans l'entretien du paysage (Dýrmundsson and Niżnikowski, 2010). ...
Thesis
La domestication représente un changement majeur de l’histoire de l’humanité, menant à l'émergence de l'agriculture durant le Néolithique. En offrant une série d'expériences évolutives indépendantes où les plantes et les animaux ont été sélectionnés pour des traits spécifiques, ce processus intéresse depuis longtemps les biologistes évolutionnistes. Le mouton (Ovis aries) est l’une des premières espèces à avoir été domestiquée, ce qui en fait aussi un modèle de choix pour étudier les premières tentatives de l’homme dans le développement de l’élevage. L’étude de ce processus implique plusieurs disciplines complémentaires comme l’archéologie, la paléo-génétique ou la génétique moderne. Les deux premières procurent des témoins directs des processus passés, mais reposent sur des données fragmentées dans le temps et l’espace. L’ADN moderne est au contraire une source de données abondantes dont l’échantillonnage peut être bien plus exhaustif au niveau géographique, mais n’est pas exempt d’incertitudes liées à la nécessité d’inférer les processus passés ayant conduit à la diversité génétique actuelle. Ces inférences sont possibles car les génomes actuels gardent les traces des processus qui les ont façonnés au fil des millénaires. Les variations génétiques le long des génomes et à travers les régions géographiques ont été largement étudiées chez le mouton, permettant d’inférer les processus démographiques (migrations, variations de tailles de populations au cours du temps) et adaptatifs (régions génomiques répondant à la sélection naturelle). Cependant, les informations temporelles contenues dans la variabilité des génomes sont encore largement sous-exploitées. Grâce à 376 génomes complets représentatifs de la diversité actuelle mondiale des moutons et de leurs proches parents sauvages, les mouflons asiatiques, nous avons précisé l’histoire de leur domestication. Les âges d’apparition de plus de 30 millions de variants génomiques ont été estimés et constituent un Atlas disponible pour la communauté scientifique via un site web. La distribution de ces âges montre que l’histoire des moutons est intimement liée à la nôtre, et que leur ADN porte la trace de grandes crises de l’Humanité telles que l’effondrement de l’âge du Bronze ou la peste de Justinien. Les variants génomiques datant de ces périodes indiquent des chutent du partage d’haplotypes entre toutes les populations domestiques. La datation des traces de sélection présentes dans les génomes souligne l’importance des remplacements de populations liés à différentes vagues de diffusion, et de l’intensification récente des sélections de caractères agronomiques. Ces processus ont effacé une partie des empreintes des sélections anciennes. Cependant, certaines races épargnées par ces phénomènes témoignent de l’utilisation précoce probable du lait dès le début de la domestication et de la sélection de caractéristiques potentiellement impliqués dans le syndrome de domestication (couleur, baisse de l’agressivité, immunité). Ce syndrome désigne un ensemble de traits morphologiques, physiologiques et comportementaux partagés par de multiples espèces domestiques sélectionnés probablement involontairement via la sélection des animaux les plus dociles. Cette datation de variants génomiques à large échelle est la première du genre mis en œuvre sur une espèce autre que l’humain. Son utilisation ouvre de nouvelles perspectives pour préciser la chronologie des évènements constituant les scénarios évolutifs (par exemple synchronisme entre migrations et évènements adaptatifs) sur d’autres espèces, dans un contexte de domestication ou plus largement.
... A number of unique sheep breeds can be found in both Sweden and France. Sweden has native breeds belonging to the north European short-tailed sheep group, breeds that are primitive, have variation in coat colour, and have been shown to be genetically unique and contribute highly to overall genetic diversity in sheep (Dýrmundsson & Niżnikowski 2010;Tapio et al. 2005). France is in a location where many different sheep groups meet in Europe (Kijas et al. 2012), and therefore French sheep populations likely represent much of European sheep diversity (Leroy et al. 2015). ...
... These breeds belong to a group of sheep called the north European short-tailed sheep. These breeds are characterized by their short fluke shaped tails, variation in coat colour and pattern, their primitive phenotypes, dual-coated wool, robustness and prolificacy (Dýrmundsson & Niżnikowski 2010). North European short-tailed sheep were spread by Norse Vikings from the eighth to the middle of the eleventh century and now cover an area from Russia to Iceland (Dýrmundsson & Niżnikowski 2010). ...
... These breeds are characterized by their short fluke shaped tails, variation in coat colour and pattern, their primitive phenotypes, dual-coated wool, robustness and prolificacy (Dýrmundsson & Niżnikowski 2010). North European short-tailed sheep were spread by Norse Vikings from the eighth to the middle of the eleventh century and now cover an area from Russia to Iceland (Dýrmundsson & Niżnikowski 2010). In studies estimating genetic diversity using microsatellite genotypes, north European short-tailed sheep, including some Swedish breeds, have been shown to be unique, with some breeds contributing more than expected to overall domestic sheep diversity, although many of these populations have small effective population size and have low within breed diversity (Tapio et al. 2005). ...
Thesis
Domestic sheep are raised for meat, milk and fibre production and are found all around the world in many types of environments. Sheep have been shown to be genetically diverse but this genetic diversity has not been fully described: there are still many sheep populations which have not yet been studied. The purpose of this thesis was to study genetic diversity in Swedish and French sheep breeds using high density marker arrays. Additional methods, including genotyping of microsatellite markers, and endogenous retroviruses and pedigree information were used to study Swedish sheep populations. Inbreeding and heterozygosity estimated in Gute sheep using the pedigree of the entire registered Swedish population and additionally microsatellite genotypes and pedigree from a sample of the population (N=94) indicated a breeding program with the purpose of reducing inbreeding. Studying genetic relationships among breeds by genotyping endogenous retroviruses indicated Klövsjö, Värmland, Finewool, Gute and Roslag sheep breeds had characteristics of primitive breeds (absence of retroviruses or presence of the specific retrovirus event enJSRV-7) although Finewool, Gute and Roslag sheep breeds had moderate frequencies of enJSRV-18 which is indicative of more modern sheep breeds. Studying variants in two coat colour genes, ASIP and MC1R, and their association with black coat colour revealed different selection histories in five Swedish sheep breeds studied. Studying the population structure of Dalapäls, Fjällnäs, Gotland, Gute and Klövsjö sheep, using high density SNP genotyping revealed that these breeds are genetically distinct breeds. When comparing with other European breeds and south west Asian breeds, they grouped with other north European short-tailed sheep breeds and they had generally accumulated more drift than breeds from other geographical areas. Studying 27 French breeds with high density genotypes revealed that French sheep populations harbour much of European sheep diversity in a small geographic area. Selective sweeps identified: selection hotspots, selection targets in many species; introgression of an adaptive allele; and allelic heterogeneity, which was confirmed with targeted resequencing of a coat colour gene, MC1R, in breeds under selection.
... One example of secondary dispersion throughout northern Europe involves a group of sheep breeds called the north European short-tailed sheep. These sheep were spread by Norse Vikings from the eighth to the middle of the eleventh century and can now be found in a range from Russia to Iceland [3]. Phenotypically, many of the north European short-tailed breeds are characterized by their primitive phenotypes, variation in coat colour, presence of horns and short fluke shaped tails [3]. ...
... These sheep were spread by Norse Vikings from the eighth to the middle of the eleventh century and can now be found in a range from Russia to Iceland [3]. Phenotypically, many of the north European short-tailed breeds are characterized by their primitive phenotypes, variation in coat colour, presence of horns and short fluke shaped tails [3]. Genetically, north European short-tailed sheep have been shown to be genetically unique, with some breeds contributing more than expected to overall domestic sheep diversity, although many of these populations have a small effective population size and low within breed diversity [4]. ...
... Many of the north European short-tailed sheep breeds today are local breeds, having adapted to specific environments, and in Sweden these small local populations are recorded and maintained as separate heritage breeds [3]. Genetic diversity has only been studied in some of these breeds: microsatellite markers were used for comparing north European short-tailed sheep [4] and northern Eurasian breeds [5]; population history has been studied in native Swedish breeds using endogenous retroviruses to compare genotypes with Texel and British breeds [6,7]; and seven microsatellite markers and pedigree data were used to estimate inbreeding and genetic diversity in a local Swedish breed, Gute sheep [8]. ...
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Background: Native Swedish sheep breeds are part of the North European short-tailed sheep group; characterized in part by their genetic uniqueness. Our objective was to study the population structure of native Swedish sheep. Five breeds were genotyped using the 600 K SNP array. Dalapäls and Klövsjö sheep are from the middle of Sweden; Gotland and Gute sheep from Gotland, an island in the Baltic Sea; and Fjällnäs sheep from northern Sweden. We studied population structure by: principal component analysis (PCA), cluster-based analysis of admixture, and an estimated population tree. Results: The analyses of the five Swedish breeds revealed that these breeds are five distinct breeds, while Gute and Gotland are more closely related to each other as seen in all analyses. All breeds had long branch lengths in the population tree indicating they've been subjected to drift. We repeated our analyses using 39 K SNP and including 50 K SNP genotypes from other European and southwestern Asian breeds from the Sheep HapMap project and 600 K SNP genotypes from a dataset of French sheep. Results arranged breeds into five groups: south-west Asia, south-west Europe, central Europe, north Europe and north European short-tailed sheep. Within this last group, Norwegian and Icelandic breeds, Finn and Romanov sheep, Scottish breeds, and Gute and Gotland sheep were more closely related while the remaining Swedish breeds and Ouessant sheep were distinct from all breeds and had longer branches in the population tree. Conclusions: We showed population structure of five Swedish breeds and their structure within European and southwestern Asian breeds. Swedish breeds are unique, distinct breeds that have been subjected to drift but group with other north European short-tailed sheep.
... However, we can hypothesize that accumulation of these specific genomic components might contribute to the observed separation pattern. Nevertheless, a more convincing theory is that the Romanov breed belongs to the group of North European short-tailed sheep, which originally inhabited the area from Russia to Iceland [42]. Based on high-density SNP profiles, Rochus, C. M. et al. (2020) studied the population structure of five Swedish-native sheep breeds and demonstrated the clear differentiation between the North European short-tailed group and other sheep populations, including transboundary and local breeds [6]. ...
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Genomic assessment of local sheep breeds is relevant to the reconstruction of post-domestication migrations and to filling in gaps in the developmental history and contemporary phylogeographic-differentiation patterns in Eurasia. In this study, we aimed to reveal possible genetic relationships between local sheep breeds in Russia and the Persian Highlands (Iran) based on high-density SNP genotypes. All samples (n = 395) from 11 Iranian and 10 Russian sheep breeds were genotyped by using the Ovine Infinium HD BeadChip (Illumina, San Diego, CA, USA). Principal Component Analysis, maximum-likelihood assessment, and Neighbor-Net graph analysis demonstrated a clear differentiation between Russian sheep breeds of European ancestry from the Iranian local cluster and Russian breeds of Asian origin. Admixture analysis revealed a shared ancestral background, which was detected in several Iranian-local and Russian-local fat-tailed coarse-wool sheep breeds. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the pattern of historic admixture, which is present in the genomes of many Eurasian sheep breeds.
... The Romanov sheep breed is native to Russia and are also North European short tail sheep. This breed is well-known for its reproductive performance and is raised in many countries for crossbreeding with local breeds [5]. In contrast to Gotland, Gute, and Romanov sheep, Karakul sheep is a fat-tailed sheep breed [6]. ...
Article
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Gotland sheep, a breed native to Gotland, Sweden (an island in the Baltic Sea), split from the Gute sheep breed approximately 100 years ago, and since, has probably been crossed with other breeds. This breed has recently gained popularity, due to its pelt quality. This study estimates the shared ancestors and identifies recent selection signatures in Gotland sheep using 600 K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotype data. Admixture analysis shows that the Gotland sheep is a distinct breed, but also has shared ancestral genomic components with Gute (~50%), Karakul (~30%), Romanov (~20%), and Fjällnäs (~10%) sheep breeds. Two complementary methods were applied to detect selection signatures: A Bayesian population differentiation FST and an integrated haplotype homozygosity score (iHS). Our results find that seven significant SNPs (q-value < 0.05) using the FST analysis and 55 significant SNPs (p-value < 0.0001) using the iHS analysis. Of the candidate genes that contain significant markers, or are in proximity to them, we identify several belongings to the keratin genes, RXFP2, ADCY1, ENOX1, USF2, COX7A1, ARHGAP28, CRYBB2, CAPNS1, FMO3, and GREB1. These genes are involved in wool quality, polled and horned phenotypes , fertility, twining rate, meat quality, and growth traits. In summary, our results provide shared founders of Gotland sheep and insight into genomic regions maintained under selection after the breed was formed. These results contribute to the detection of candidate genes and QTLs underlying economic traits in sheep.
... The Icelandic sheep is a short-tailed and light breed and has been the only sheep breed in the country since its settlement (Dýrmundsson and Niznikowski, 2010). Within the Icelandic sheep breed, a small and unique strain called "Leadersheep" has evolved through selection (Jónmundsson et al., 2015); that is defined as a separate breed since 2017 (Jónmundsson and Dýrmundsson, 2019). ...
Article
Genetic selection in commercial sheep production has mainly focussed on production traits and to a large extent ignoring behavioural traits, such as response towards predators. The Icelandic leadersheep is a sheep breed selected and known for its special behavioural traits, such as leading the flock and bringing it home from pasture in case of danger. Those traits are also said to be beneficial in areas with a high predator pressure. In this study, it was investigated if there are behavioural differences in sheep flocks with and without a leadersheep present. Behaviour of sheep flocks was observed before, during and after a predator test, in small groups of Icelandic sheep with or without a leadersheep in the group. Eleven groups of Icelandic sheep with six ewes in each group were observed in a test arena while a human, a dog and a drone passed through the pasture. Six of the groups included a leadersheep and the remaining five did not. Groups including a leadersheep spent more time grazing after both the human and dog test, indicating a faster recovering to normal behaviour. They were also located close to the exit during the dog test compared to groups without a leadersheep, fitting well with the assertion that leadersheep bring the flock home in case of danger. During the drone test, groups with a leadersheep however spent more time moving around compared to the other groups. Since the sheep had experienced both humans and dogs before, but not drones, this may indicate that groups with leadersheep recovered quickly from the figurants they had experienced before, but tended to react more in the test which was a new situation. In conclusion, it appears likely that the earlier selection for leader traits in the leadersheep have indeed changed both their own behaviour and also that this has an effect on the behaviour of group members.
... Other breeds in the comparative dataset having this provirus were the Faroe (20%), Gute (18%), and Finnsheep (6%). For Gute sheep, for example, it has also previously been suggested that it is not a fully primitive breed but crossed with modern breeds, especially with Texel 16,23 . ...
Article
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Native animal breeds constitute an invaluable pool of genetic resources in a changing environment. Discovering native breeds and safeguarding their genetic diversity through specific conservation programs is therefore of high importance. Endogenous retroviruses have proved to be a reliable genetic marker for studying the demographic history of sheep (Ovis aries). Previous research has revealed two migratory episodes of domesticated sheep from the Middle East to Europe. The first episode included predominantly ‘primitive populations’, while the second and most recent is hypothesised to have included sheep with markedly improved wool production. To examine whether the recently discovered Kihnu native sheep in Estonia have historically been part of the first migratory episode and to what extent they have preserved primitive genetic characters, we analysed retroviral insertions in 80 modern Kihnu sheep and 83 ancient sheep from the Bronze Age to Modern Period (850 BCE–1950 CE). We identified that the Kihnu sheep have preserved ‘primitive’, ‘Nordic’, and other ‘ancient’ retrotypes that were present both in archaeological and modern samples, confirming their shared ancestry and suggesting that contemporary Kihnu native sheep originate from the first migratory episode. However, over the course of history, there has been a gradual decrease in the frequency of primitive retrotypes. Furthermore, Kihnu sheep possessed several ‘novel’ retrotypes that were absent in archaeological individuals, but were shared with improvement breeds, suggesting recent crossing within the last two centuries. To preserve these ancient lineages, our results are being applied in the conservation program of the Kihnu Native Sheep Society.
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In Iceland, the sheep production year is characterized by lambing in May, weaning and slaughtering in September and October. Our hypothesis is that modelling interrelationships of production parameters will aid in controlling variation in important outputs like weaning weight. We analyzed data from twelve production years in our experimental farm with total records of 9661lambs born to 1847 dams. In the whole dataset, 7.4% of the lambs were born as singles, 78.1% as twins, 13.7% as triplets and 0.8% as quads. Surrogate mothers fostered 5.5% of the lambs. We fitted multilevel models to data on lamb weight at birth, at 50.9 ± 8.6 days and at weaning at 140.7 ± 8.3 days of age, and to the respective lamb growth rates. Ewe was included as a random effect in the model. Fixed group effects that significantly influenced birth weight were (presented as least square means, kg): litter size (singles 4.60; twins 4.01; triplets 3.35; quads 3.02), lamb sex (male 3.84; female 3.65), dam age (lowest for 2 year old dams ), and production year (3.68 to 3.84). The model describing birth weight, also included positive linear relationships with ewe weight in the first month of pregnancy, ewe weight gain from first to third month of pregnancy, and a second degree relationship with body condition score (BCS) in third month of pregnancy. Fixed group effects significantly influencing growth rate from birth to weaning at 4-5 months of age were: rearing type (as singles 264.0; as twins 235.9 g d⁻¹); lamb sex (males 263.6; females 237.4 g d⁻¹), dam age (growth rate highest for 3 and 4 year old dams), production year (238.8 to 262.5 g d⁻¹), time of weaning (late October 240.0; late September 254.5 g d⁻¹). There were also positive linear relationships with lamb birth weight, ewe weight in third month of pregnancy, and BCS in last month of pregnancy. In conclusion, multilevel models on lamb birth weight and growth rate provide an opportunity to predict and control the variability in lamb weaning weight.
Chapter
This chapter explores the profound impact of farming on North Atlantic vertebrate biota, reviewing evidence for the introduction of domesticated faunas and of the irrevocable changes to the island landscapes and environments effected in particular by pastoralism and the exploitation of marine resources. The North Atlantic islands have different settlement histories. There is a continuous record of farming communities in Orkney and Shetland from the mid third millennium BCE onwards. The chapter discusses that some of the ways people have exploited the seas around the North Atlantic islands from the arrival of the Vikings onwards, thus focusing on the centuries in which humans have had a long-lasting and sustained impact on the fauna of the sea. The distinctive treeless landscapes of the North Atlantic islands are largely a product of the farming practices associated with the management of the imported domestic livestock.
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This study set out to investigate possible relationships between lamb carcass weight and quality with feed availability during the main growing season in southern Greenland where farms are sparsely distributed over a large area. In early May, ewes and new-born lambs are let out to graze permanent nature areas until slaughter towards the end of September. In our study, we used data from 157,477 lambs slaughtered between 2010 and 2017 as well as the Normalized Differentiated Vegetation Index (NDVI) as an indicator of biomass growth. Mean carcass weight of lambs ranged from 13.4 kg in 2015 to 16.5 kg in 2010 where 70.5% of all lambs scored well for conformation and fat. Both farm, year, and NDVI significantly correlated with carcass weight and quality. Lambs raised in the northern and the southern grazing areas generally were smaller than lambs raised in the central part. Finally, NDVI explained between 0 and 74% of the variation in mean carcass weight across years within each grazing area. Our work exemplifies the use of satellite-derived data to attempt an explanation of spatial variation in productivity, which in the future could be coupled with other spatial variables such as soil quality, vegetation, and topography.
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The five Northern European short-tailed sheep breeds present in North America are the Finnsheep, Romanov, Icelandic, Shetland and Gotland. The Finnsheep and Romanov were first imported in 1966 and 1986, respectively, for their high reproductive performance. The Shetland, Icelandic and Gotland breeds were first imported in 1980, 1985 and 2005, respectively, for the uniqueness of their physical appearance and their unique fleeces desired by fiber craftspeople. There have been no scientific studies conducted on the performance of the Shetland, Icelandic or Gotland breeds relative to other breeds of sheep in North America. However, the Shetland and Icelandic breeds have become very popular in the United States and ranked 9th and 18th, respectively, among 35 breeds of sheep for number of purebred animals registered in 2008. The performance of the Finnsheep breed in North America relative to domestic breeds has been thoroughly investigated. Compared to several domestic purebreds and crosses, sheep with Finnsheep breeding had a younger age at puberty, greater fertility to autumn mating, greater litter size, greater survival to weaning, similar growth rate, similar subcutaneous fat thickness, smaller loin muscle area and greater percentage of kidney and pelvic fat. Each 1% increase in Finnsheep breeding in ewes was associated with approximately 0.01 more lambs born per ewe lambing. In North American studies, Romanov ewes were superior to Finnsheep ewes for reproductive rate and lamb production per ewe under both autumn and spring mating. Lambs of the two breeds were similar for survival, growth and carcass traits. Romanov and Romanov-cross ewes produced fleeces that were heavily contaminated with medulated and colored fibers and were of very low commercial value. Three composite breeds containing 25% to 49% Finnsheep breeding (Polypay, Rideau Arcott and Outaouais Arcott) were developed in North America and are now more popular than the Finnsheep breed.
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Four-hornedness has become a rare trait in sheep. According to Ryder (1983) such sheep were more widespread in former times, both in Europe and Asia. He pointed out that in Europe four horns seemed to be associated with the primitive sheep breeds of the north west. This peculiar trait is now mainly found in short-tailed prehistoric sheep in Northwest-Europe such as in the Iceland breed, and in the Manx Logthan and the Hebridean sheep on the British Isles. Four-horned sheep may still be found in Southern-Europe, namely on Cyprus and in Spain, and the four-horned, long-tailed Jacob sheep on the British Isles and elsewhere, is believed to be of southerly origin, possibly linked with the Manx Logthan and the Hebridean, formerly St Kilda sheep (Ponting, 1980; Ryder, 1983). There are even records of six horns on sheep in rare cases (Ryder, 1983). Iceland seems to be the only Nordic country, including the Faeroe Islands, where four-hornedness is still found in the native popula-tion. Four-horned sheep may still be found in Greenland but they are of the Iceland breed, presumably due to sheep from North-Iceland being shipped to Greenland in 1915. There was evidence of four-horned sheep on the Faeroe Islands until the middle of the 20 th century (Gunnar Bjarnason, personal communication) and in Sweden it is believed that this trait was found in Gotland sheep (Gutefår) until two centuries ago when it became extinct. Four-horned crosses with Jacob sheep may still be found there (Abrahamsson, 2004). The four-horned sheep in Iceland are found on a few farms in all parts of coun-try, however, in small numbers in each case. The total number is not known, probably fewer than 1000. Four-hornedness is not found in foreign coun-tries where sheep of the Iceland breed are kept, except in Greenland, but breeders of Icelandic sheep in North-America are inter-ested in importing this rare trait through artificial insemination (Laurie Ball-Gisch, personal communication). There was a four-horned ram in the AI services several years ago and it seems now timely to offer such possibilities to support the preserva-tion of four-hornedness, both in Iceland and abroad. Such a ram will in fact be available in the AI services in 2005.
Article
A unique strain of sheep, known to lead the flock, has evolvedwithin the short-tailed, native breed of Iceland sheep. Leadersheep, known for centuries, walk or run in front of the flock, even in bad weather conditions, they may foresee climatic events and are generally very alert and attentive. The high level of intelligence expressed by these sheep is known to be strongly inherited, without being linked to sex, age, colour and otherexternal traits. However, little is known about the genetics of leadersheepper se. Most of them are non-white and horned with a slender body conformation. Since they are endangered with a breeding population of only some 1 000 purebred animals, mostly ewes, conservation measures are in progress, mainly through AI and individual recording. To strengthen these effortsenthusiastic breeders and scientists founded the Leadersheep Society of Iceland in the spring of 2000. While the main aim is to conserve and maintain leadersheep, future possibilities of utilizing their unique characteristicsare being considered.
Article
Performance of 14 Romanov ewes imported from France in 1980 and their 100 Canadian-born progeny over a period of 5 years is reported. Ovulation rate was 2.5±0.06 and 3.0±0.15 for 7 to 10-month-old and older ewes, respectively. Least-square means for fertility were 100% for ewes mated in the autumn and winter and 42% for those mated in summer. Age and weight of ewes at first lambing were 372 days and 46 kg, respectively. Corresponding figures for second and third parity lambings were 656 days, 56.5 kg and 902 days, 59.8 kg, respectively. Average interval between lambings was 276±9.5 days. It was shortest (248 days) when the following mating was in autumn and longest (308 days) when in summer. Fifty-one percent of 41 ewes on an accelerated lambing management succeeded in lambing three times in 24 months and the rest required 28 or 32 months. Litter size at birth (2.86±0.15) and at weaning (2.10±0.15) were significantly affected by season of mating and parity. The most prolific matings were those of the autumn and of ewes in their fifth parity (3.18 and 3.54 lambs, respectively). On the average, 0.52 (18.2%) lambs died at birth and an additional 0.25 lambs (8.7%) before weaning. Total litter weight averaged 7.1 kg at birth (6.0 kg alive) and 39.0 kg at weaning. Average birth weight of lambs born alive was 2.9 kg. Body weights at 70, 180 and 365 days of age were 17.8, 34.5 and 47.6 kg for females and 20.0, 41.1 and 59.2 kg for male lambs, respectively. Preweaning average daily gain was 217 g for females and 245 g for males. Productivity, evaluated by total weaned lambs at 70 days per ewe per year, was 39.9 kg for yearlings and 54.9 kg for older ewes. Greasy fleece weight ranged from 1.1 kg for 7 to 9-month-old lambs to 2.5 kg for 44 to 49-month-old ewes. The performance of this first sample of Romanov breed in North America was high and generally comparable to that in Russia, France and other European countries.
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Sheep, and to a lesser extent goats, have contributed substantially to the grassland-based agricultural production in North European countries for centuries. Most of these countries are now members of the European Union and both EU policy and global trade negotiations with the World Trade Organization are bound to influence in many ways the future development of the present production systems. This paper will review briefly the present situation with special reference to the sheep meat sector. Sustainability of production will be analyzed and discussed in terms of several criteria such as economics and farm income, resource utilization, environmental impact, landscape conservation, marketing of local value-added products and the maintenance of the rural population. Attention will be paid to the influence of increased world trade and competition, as a result of WTO negotiations, and changes in the direction of support through EU policy reform (CAP), namely the decoupling of subsidies from production to sustainable development (“the green box”). Finally, the economic problems experienced by sheep and goat farmers in countries ranging from the Arctic to the Alps will be discussed in the face of these challenges.
Article
In France, the first real experiments with sheep crossbreeding began in 1963 at the INRA Domain of Bourges, using Cotentin, Border Leicester and Romanov (RO) rams on Berrichon du Cher (BC) ewes and production of crossbreds from two and three breeds. On account of the higher productivity of RO crossbreds as well as the good adaptation of RO ewes to sheep-fold management, the experiments were directed towards a more analytical study of the performances of the parental BC and RO ewes, possessing complementary qualities, and of their crossbreds (F1 and F2 and the 2 back-crosses). This study summarizes the main results obtained by the different research teams of INRA on fertility, prolificacy and its components, ovulation rate and embryonic losses, adaptability to breeding season changes (fertility at out of season lambings, or at accelerated rhythm of reproduction), endocrinological criteria, milk production of the dams, viability of lambs, and carcass quality as well as the productivity of four schemes using Romanov in crossbreeding. The introduction of Finnish ewes and rams was made in private farms as far back as 1966, but this breeding was ceased in 1970 for sanitary reasons. The remaining no culling breeding ewes are compared with the Romanov ones in the INRA Domain of Bourges. The results obtained with Finnish ewes are comparable with those of the Romanov as regards precocity and length of the breeding season, but the prolificacy of ewes and particularly the viability of lambs seem to be lower. However, these results are based on small numbers of observations and must be checked by the current studies taking place in several experimental farms.
Article
As a follow-up to earlier review papers, the available data on Finnsheep in different countries all over the world have been brought together. Apart from published material, other sources have been utilized, including answers to a questionnaire circulated in January 1976. Data on measured traits are summarized, and comparisons have been made between certain traits in Finland and abroad. The following main traits are reviewed:Fertility. Early sexual maturity is typical of the breed. Both ewe and ram lambs can be used for breeding at 6–8 months of age. Conception rate is 94–96% for ewe lambs and 95–98% for adult ewes. Litter size for 1-year-old, 2-year-old and adult ewes is about 1.8, 2.4 and 2.7, respectively. Lamb mortality varies from 7 to 40 %, depending on litter size. The majority of the ewes can conceive out of season. Oestrus lasts 2–2.5 days, and fertile oestruses occur during lactation. Ovulation rate is high. Rams show high libido, large testes and good fertility. High gonadal activity is common to both sexes of the breed.Mothering ability. Assistance at lambing is needed in 10–12% of cases. The average score for mothering ability in the scale from 1 to 4 was 2.65, but it varied greatly. The average score for milk production was 2.44 and the average daily milk yield 1.81 kg.Health. The average score for health was 2.38. In half of the places there were problems with pneumonia. Other health problems were specific for different places.Growth and carcass. The average birth weight is about 2.4 kg, but varies with litter size. Mean 150-day weight in Finland is 30 kg and daily gain ca. 180 g. The gain during the first 6 weeks depends on litter size. Litter weight at 150 days was 71 kg, but litters of 4–5 lambs were thrice as heavy as singles. Carcass yield of lambs is competitive with other breeds, but carcass quality 5–10% poorer. Fat is located mainly in body cavities, not subcutaneously.Wool. Fleece weights are inferior to most other breeds, being about 2 kg as greasy and 1.5 kg as clean. The wool is rather fine, 25–28 μm, white, semilustrous, soft and silky. Medullation is rare.RésuméComme suite à des mises au point antérieures, on a rassemblé toutes les données sur les Moutons Finnoise qui étaient disponibles dans différents pays du monde. En plus des publications on a utilisé d'autres sources, notamment les réponses à un questionnaire qui a été envoyé en Janvier 1976. On a résumé les données sur les caractères mesurables et, pour certains d'entre eux, on a comparé les valeurs obtenues en Finlande et à l'étranger. On a examiné les principaux caractéres suivants:Fertilité. Une maturité sexuelle précoce est typique de la race; les agnelles comme les béliers peuvent être mis à la reproduction à l'âge de 6–8 mois. Le taux de conception est de 94–96% pour les agnelles et de 95–98% pour les brebis adultes. Le nombre d'agneaux par portée est de 1,8; 2,4 et 2,7 respectivement pour les femelles de 1 an, 2 ans et adultes. Le taux de mortalité des agneaux varie de 7 à 40% selon la taille des portées. La majorité des brebis peut être fécondée à contre saison. L'oestrus dure de 2 à 2,5 jours et des oestrus fertiles apparaissent pendant la lactation. Le taux d'ovulation est élevé. Les béliers ont une libido élevée, de gros testicules et une bonne fertilité. Les deux sexes ont une activité gonadique élevée.Qualités maternelles. Une assistance à l'agnelage est nécessaire dans 10–12% des cas. La note d'aptitude maternelle est en moyenne de 2.65, dans une échelle de 1 à 4, mais présente des grandes variations. En moyenne la note de production laitière est de 2,44 et la production journalière de 1,81 kg.Santé. La note moyenne de santé est de 2.38. Dans la moitié des lieux d'observation on a eu des problèmes avec la pneumonie. Les autres problèmes sanitaires ont été spécifiques des différents lieux.Croissance et carcasse. Le poids moyen à la naissance est de 2,4 kg, mais il varie avec la taille de la portée. En Finlande le poids moyen à 150 jours est de 30 kg et le gain journalier de 180 g. Le croft au cours des 6 premières semaines dépend de la taille de la portée. Le poids de la portée à 150 jours est de 71 kg en moyenne, mais est peut-être trois fois plus élevé pour les portées de 4–5 agneaux que pour celles d'un seul agneau. Le rendement en carcasse est comparable à celui des autres races mais la qualité de la carcasse est de 5 à 10% inférieure. Le gras est localisé principalement dans la cavité abdominale, mais pas sous la peau.Laine. Le poids de la toison est inférieur à celui de la plupart des autres races, étant de 2 kg en suint et de 1,5 kg après lavage. La laine est assez fine (25–28 μm), blanche, semi brillante, douce et soyeuse. Elle est rarement médullée.ZusammenfassungAls eine Fortsetzung früherer Übersichtsreferate wurden die verfügbaren Informationen über Finnschafe in den verschiedenen Ländern zusammengetragen. Neben bereits veröffentlichtem Material wurden andere Quellen verwendet, wie z.B. Antworten auf einen Fragebogen, welcher im Januar 1976 verschickt wurde. Es werden Zahlenangaben über verschiedene Leistungseigenschaften zusammengefasst. Darüber hinaus wurden in Finnland sowie in anderen Ländern Vergleiche zwischen verschiedenen Merkmalen angestellt. Die folgenden, wichtigsten Eigenschaften wurden in die Ubersicht einbezogen:Fruchtbarkeit. Für die Rasse ist frühe Geschlechtsreife typisch. Weibliche lämmer sowie Bocklämmer können bereits im Alter von 6 bis 8 Monaten zur Zucht verwendet werden. Die Konzeptionsrate schwankt für junge weibliche Tiere von 94 bis 96% und fur ausgewachsene Muttertiere von 95 bis 98%. Die Wurfgrösse beträgt etwa 1.8, 2.4 bzw. 2.7. Je nach Wurfgrösse schwankt die Lämmersterblichkeit zwischen 7 und 40%. Die Mehrzahl der Mutterschafe kann auch ausserhalb der Deckperiode aufnehmen. Der Östrus beim Schaf dauert 2 bis 2.5 Tage. Ein fruchtbarer Östrus kann auch während der Laktation auftreten. Die Ovulationsrate ist hoch. Die Böcke zeigen starke Libido, grosse Hoden und gute Fruchtbarkeit. Für beide Geschlechter dieser Rasse ist eine hohe Gonadenaktivität typisch.Mütterlichkeit. In 10 bis 12% der Fälle ist Hilfe beim Ablammen erforderlich. Die durchschnittliche Punktzahl für die Mütterlichkeit betrug 2.65 bei einer Skala von 1 bis 4. Es traten jedoch sehr grosse Schwankungen auf. Die durchschnittliche Punktzahl für die Milchleistung betrug 2.44 sowie die durchschnittliche tägliche Milchleistung 1.81 kg.Gesundheit. Die durchschnittliche Punktzahl für die Gesundheit betrug 2.38. In der Hälfte der Fälle traten Komplikationen durch Lungenentzündung auf. Sonstige spezifische Krankheiten wurden an anderen Standorten beobachtet.Wachstum und Schlachtkörper. Das durchschnittliche Geburtsgewicht beträgt rund 2.4 kg, schwankt jedoch je nach Wurfgrösse. Das Durchschnittliche 150 Tage-Gewicht beträgt 30 kg und die täglichen Zunahme rund 180 g. Die Zunahmen während der ersten 6 wochen hängen von der Wurfgrösse ab. Das Wurfgewicht bei 150 Tagen beträgt 71 kg. Die Würfe von 4 bis 5 Lämmer waren allerdings dreimal so schwer wie Einzelwürfe. Die Schachtkörpermenge der Lämmer ist mit der anderer Rassen konkurrenzfähig. Die Schlachtkörperqualität ist allerdings 5 bis 10% geringer. Das Fett befindet sich in Körperhöhlungen und ist nicht subkutan abgelagert.Wolle. Die Vliesgewichte liegen unter denjenigen der meisten anderen Rassen, und zwar 2 kg Rohwolle und 1.5 kg Reinwolle. Die Wolle ist ziemlich fein, 25–28 μm, weiss, halbglänzend, weich, seidig und selten markhaltig.
Article
The results of main and short papers on the productivity of crosses between domestic and prolific breeds presented in Zürich in 1976 have been summarized according to the important reproduction and production traits. Fertility, prolificacy, mortality rate, litter size born and weaned, ovulation rate, accelerated and out-of-season lambing, milk production, growth and carcass traits were analysed. More attention has been paid to the reproduction traits, because of their importance in crossbreeding with prolific breeds. For all analysed traits the amount of heterosis has been estimated from various information sources: midparent value, F1, F2, B1 (backcrosses), one of the parent breeds. The use of prolific breeds mostly leads to an improvement in the reproductive characters. The breed differences are decisive for all traits. The reproduction traits generally show higher heterosis effects than the production traits, but this statement cannot be held as a rule. For international comparisons in future the traits must be standardized.