Local sheep production is set to significantly improve following the release of the genetically improved F1 Sheep Cross Breed at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Nawaicoba Quarantine Station in Nadi today.
Speaking at the handing over of the F1 Sheep Cross Breed to sheep farmers in the Western Division Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy said the release paved the way for improved sheep genetics and production at the farm level.
“The improvement in the genetic make-up will create impacts such as improved weight gain, reproductive efficiency and better production performance. According to the breed evaluation studies at Nawaicoba Research Station, F1 Cross Breeds have an average birth weight of 3.5kg compared to 2.68kg in the Fiji Fantastic breed,” Minister Reddy said.
“They also have a better average body length and low mortality rate when compared to the Fiji Fantastic sheep and a better twinning percentage than Dorper Sheep breeds.”
With 120 male breeders and 60 female breeders being released today for farmers in the Western Division, Minister Reddy highlighted that the F1 Sheep Cross Breed was a product of cross breeding between Dorper and Fiji Fantastic Breeds and would significantly contribute to improved production.
“The introduction of these F1 breeds on farms will boost the genetic make-up of the existing population and contribute to improved performances of these animals on local farms.
Minister Reddy said the breed was to substantially increase the production and profitability of sheep farmers throughout the country, to produce prime lamb and chevron products and reduce sheep meat importation, as well as to build Ministry staff and farmers’ capacity on modern production technology.
He has also urged farmers to take advantage of this genetic improvement program to improve the current condition of their stocks.
Minister Reddy added that the Ministry of Agriculture’s research stations would continue with its breeding program and evaluate the productive and reproductive parameters of various crossbreeds.
The release of the F1 Sheep Cross Breed is the culmination of decades of quarantine, monitoring and natural breeding as a result of two way crossbreeding between various imported sheep breeds based on the compatibility features that could sustain performance in tropical conditions.
The crossbreeding program between Fiji Fantastic ewes and the imported Dorper Rams led to the breeding of these improved genetics, which has 50 per cent features of Fiji Fantastic and 50 per cent of Dorper Rams.