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The objective of this study was to evaluate growth performance of indigenous Gumz, exotic Rutana sheep, and their crosses under on-farm conditions as a step towards designing Gumz sheep conservation and improvement strategies in the north western lowlands of Amhara Region, Ethiopia. Data from a total of 180 Gumz, Rutana, and their crosses were collected between 2014 and 2016. The mean birth weights of the Rutana, Gumz and their crosses were 3.75±0.07, 2.86±0.06 and 3.38±0.07 kg, respectively. Sex was an important source of variation in which male lambs were superior over their female contemporaries. Single-born lambs were heavier (p<0.001) compared to their twins contemporaries. Rutana lambs had significantly highest (118.05±2.67 g) daily weight gain whereas Gumz lambs had lower (100.21±2.48 g). The daily weight gain of the crosses was 107.78±2.66 g. Single-born lambs grew faster than their multiple twin contemporaries between birth to weaning (110.84±1.97 vs. 106.52±2.27 g/day, P<0.05) at three months of age. The Rutana lambs also gained more (59.01±3.44 g/day) than the crossbred (52.15±3.36 g/day) and Gumz (46.34±3.29 g/day) lambs from weaning to six months of age. It can be concluded that Rutana inheritance improve pre-weaning and post-weaning growth performance of the indigenous breed of Gumz sheep. However, Gumz breed is a unique genetic resource and the only thin tailed sheep breed in Ethiopia. Therefore, conservation-based breeding program, including improvement of Gumz sheep through selective breeding should be part of the breed improvement program.
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