Sheep breeds differ greatly in levels of performance for economically important traits. Because the differences among breeds are genetic in nature, these differences can be exploited rapidly and cheaply to increase profits for sheep producers. While over 30 breeds exist in the U.S., there are foreign breeds that may fit into our sheep industry. A past example is the use of Finnsheep to improve reproductive performance in commercial flocks. There is a growing opportunity to import the most promising breeds throughout the world. If subsequent experimental evaluation documents the usefulness of imported breeds, these breeds to improve the efficiency of sheep production. The benefits of the imported breeds can be realized through their use as purebreds, as part of crosscreeding systems or as a contributor to the genetic foundation of new composite breeds. The incorpration of Finnsheep germ plasm with Dorset, Rambouillet, and Targhee to form the Polypay breed is an example of the latter situation.
Three "exotic" breeds have recently been imported into North America and flocks have been established at the Meat Animal Research Center (MARC). These breeds are being multiplied to increase numbers and two breeds are currently being evaluated relative to standard U.S. breeds. The main objective of the evaluations will be to characterize the performance labels of these breeds and to assess their potential roles in the sheep industry. The purpose of this paper is to review briefly the history, performance, importation, and potential industry uses of the three imported breeds.
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South Dakota State University
Copyright © 1989 South Dakota State University
Leymaster, Kreg and Hruska, Roman L., "New Breeds - Are They for You?" (1989). South Dakota Sheep Field Day Proceedings and Research Reports, 1989. 7.