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The Current Status of Indigenous Ovine Genetic Resources in Southern Africa and Future Sustainable Utilisation to Improve Livelihoods

1
Department of Animal Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa
2
Animal Production, Agricultural Research Council, Private Bag X2, Irene 0062, South Africa
3
Directorate Animal Sciences, Western Cape Department of Agriculture: Elsenburg, Private Bag X1, Elsenburg 7607, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010014
Received: 22 October 2019 / Revised: 28 November 2019 / Accepted: 5 December 2019 / Published: 25 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation of Rare Breeds of Livestock)
Indigenous sheep play an important role in the livelihoods of communal farmers in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and this underlines the need to curb the genetic erosion of these valuable resources. This contribution reports that the phenotypic performance and genetics gains of institutional and commercial sheep in Southern Africa are well recorded. In contrast, there is a dearth of knowledge as far as the performance and genetic gains of indigenous ovine genetic resources utilized by smallholder farmers are concerned. High levels of genetic diversity have been observed in exotic breeds, whereas low levels of genetic diversity were found in the Zulu and Namaqua Afrikaner breeds. Phenotypic measurements for indigenous resources include linear measurements indicative of size and reproduction for Zulu sheep. Lamb survival, reproduction and resistance to ticks of the indigenous, fat-tailed Namaqua Afrikaner sheep, as well as growth and reproduction have also been recorded for Sabi and Landim sheep. This review discusses ways to sustainably utilize ovine genetic resources, which includes the suggested implementation of structured breeding and conservation programs, marketing, improving feed resources, health and diseases, as well as gender and age issues. Clearly, there is ample room for further research and development as far as the performance and improvement of African indigenous sheep are concerned. View Full-Text
Keywords: breeding; conservation; genetic diversity; genetic erosion; robustness; socio-ecological systems breeding; conservation; genetic diversity; genetic erosion; robustness; socio-ecological systems
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MDPI and ACS Style

Molotsi, A.H.; Dube, B.; Cloete, S.W.P. The Current Status of Indigenous Ovine Genetic Resources in Southern Africa and Future Sustainable Utilisation to Improve Livelihoods. Diversity 2020, 12, 14.

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