In the traditional Menz sheep breeding, communities select against black coat color and therefore its frequency is declining over time. We hypothesize that this exercise is causing the loss of an important gene pool. Data collected from on-station Menz sheep nucleus (n = 1992) and community-based breeding program (CBBP) (n = 5578) were analyzed to (1) assess color proportion dynamics over years and (2) associate phenotypic performances and estimated breeding values (EBVs) for growth traits with coat color of the animals. The on-station nucleus considered growth trait as selection criteria, while CBBP focused on a combination of growth and morphological characters. The results showed that the proportion of black coat color increased across years in the on-station nucleus flock (2.1% per year). However, in the CBBP, flocks’ proportion of black coat color declined over time (1.03–1.05% per year). Birth and growth traits of black-colored sheep were consistently superior (P < 0.05) to white-colored sheep. Mean yearling weight and EBV of black rams used in the on-station flock was 24.3 kg and 3.7 kg, respectively, while the values for white-colored sheep were 19.7 kg and 1.6 kg, respectively. This variation in growth performances of Menz sheep among different colors may be due to the linkage between color and growth performance genes. Thus, selection against black coat color in the CBBPs seems to have an adverse effect on the genetic progress of growth traits in the Menz sheep. Understanding the core reasons behind the prevailing selection against black coat color and devising measures to address them should be considered. Developing a black line targeting specific markets might also be worthy to maximize production as well as maintain qualities associated with black color.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Adalsteinsson, S., 1975. Depressed fertility in Icelandic sheep caused by a single colour gene. Ann. Genet. Sel. Anim. 7, 445–447. doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/1297-9686-7-4-445
Becerril, C., Wilcox, C., Lawlor, T., Wiggans, G., Webb, D., 1993. Effects of Percentage of White Coat Color on Holstein Production and Reproduction in a Subtropical Environment. J. Dairy Sci. 2286–2291.
Bireda, W., Kebede, K., Mekashaw, Y., Bejano, S., 2016. Phenotypic Characterization of Black Head Somali Sheep in Gode and Adadile Districts, Ethiopia 17, 265–270. doi:https://doi.org/10.5829/idosi.gv.2016.17.03.10568
Charon, K.M., Lipka, K.R., Breeding, A., 2015. The effect of a coat colour-associated genes polymorphism on animal health - a review 15, 3–17. doi:https://doi.org/10.2478/aoas-2014-0066
Durosaro, S.O., Ojo, A., Fadare, A.O., Olowofeso, O., Ilori, B.M., 2014. Effect of Coat Colour on Water Intake and Feed Utilization of Intensively Reared West African Dwarf Sheep in the Humid Tropics. Measurement 4, 43–48.
Ebozoje, M.O., Ikeobi, C.O.N., 1998. Colour variation and reproduction in the West African dwarf (WAD) goats. Small Rumin. Res. 27, 125–130. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-4488(97)00045-X.
Finch, V. 1981. Black cattle in the cool pastoral highlands of Kenya. J. Agric. Sci., 97, 739-742. doi:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021859600037114.
Finch, V., Bennett, I., Holmes, C. 1984. Coat colour in cattle: Effect on thermal balance, behaviour and growth, and relationship with coat type. J. Agric. Sci., 102, 141-147. doi:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021859600041575.
Getachew, T., Haile, A., Tibbo, M., Sharma, A., Kifle, Aa., Terefe, E., Wurzingere, M., Sölknere, J., 2009. Morphological characters and body weight of Menz and Afar sheep within their production system. Ethiop. J. Anim. Prod. 9.
Getachew, T., Gizaw, S., Lemma, S., Taye, M., 2011. Breeding practices, growth, and carcass potential of fat-tailed Washera sheep breed in Ethiopia. Trop. Anim. Health Prod. 43, 1443–1448.
Gizaw, S., Komen, H., Hanotte, O., Van Arendonk, J.A., 2008. Indigenous sheep resources of Ethiopia: types, production systems. Animal Genetic Resources Information. 43,25-39.
Gizaw, S., Getachew, T., Tibbo, M., Haile, A, Dessie, T., 2011. Congruence between selection on breeding values and farmers’ selection criteria in sheep breeding under conventional nucleus breeding schemes. Animal 5, 995–1001. doi:https://doi.org/10.1017/S1751731111000024.
Haile, A., Tembely, S., Anindo, D.O., Mukasa-Mugerwa, E., Rege, J.E.O., Yami, A., Baker, R.L. 2002. Effects of breed and dietary protein supplementation on the responses to gastrointestinal nematode infections in Ethiopian sheep. Small Rumin. Res. 44, 247-261. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-4488(02)00080-9.
Kassie, G.T., Abdulai, A., Wolltny, C., 2009. Valuing traits of indigenous cows in central Ethiopia. J. Agric. Econ. 60, 386–401. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1477-9552.2008.00191.x.
Kassie, G.T., Abdulai, A., Wollny, C., 2011. Heteroscedastic hedonic price model for cattle in the rural markets of central Ethiopia. Appl. Econ. 43, 3459–3464. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/00036841003670614.
Maloney, S.K., Fuller, A., Mitchell, D., 2009. Climate change: is the dark Soay sheep endangered?. Subject collections 2005, 826–829. doi:https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2009.0424.
McManus, C., Louvandini, H., Gugel, R., Sasaki, L.C.B., Bianchini, E., Bernal, F.E.M., Paiva, S.R., Paim, T.P., 2011. Skin and coat traits in sheep in Brazil and their relation with heat tolerance. Trop. Anim. Health Prod. 43, 121–126. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-010-9663-6.
Meiri, S., Dayan, T., 2003. On the validity of Bergmann’s rule. J. Biogeogr. 30, 331–351. doi:https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2699.2003.00837.x.
Meyer, K. 2007. WOMBAT-A tool for mixed model analyses in quantitative genetics by restricted maximum likelihood (REML). Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE. 8, 815-821. doi: https://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.2007.B0815.
Ndumu, D.B., Baumung, R., Wurzinger, M., Drucker, A. G., Okeyo, A. M., Semambo, D., Sölkner, J., 2008. Performance and fitness traits versus phenotypic appearance in the African Ankole Longhorn cattle: A novel approach to identify selection criteria for indigenous breeds. Livest. Sci. 113, 234–242. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2007.04.004.
Notter D. R. 1999. The importance of genetic diversity in livestock populations of the future. Journal of Animal Science, 77, 61–69. https://doi.org/10.2527/1999.77161x.
Ouma, E., Abdulai, A., Drucker, A., 2005. Assessment of Farmer Preferences for Cattle Traits in Cattle Production Systems of Kenya. 11th Congr. EAAE (European Assoc. Agric. Econ. 24–27.
Pant, K.P., de Arruda, F. A. V, de Figueiredo, É.A.P., 1985. Role of coat colour in body heat regulation among goats and hairy sheep in tropics. Pesqui Agropecuária Bras. 20, 715–726.
Peters, K.J., Horst, P., Kleinheisterkamp, H., 1982. The importance of coat colour and coat type as indicators of productive adaptability of beef cattle in a subtropical environment. Trop. Anim. Prod. 7, 296–304.
Sanusi, A.O., Peters, S.O., Sonibare, A.O., Imumorin, I.G., Ozoje, M.O., 2012. Preliminary association of coat colour types and tolerance to Haemonchus contortus infection in West African Dwarf sheep. J. Appl. Anim. Res. 40, 1–7. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/09712119.2011.634178
SAS Institute Inc. 2008. SAS/GeneticsTM 9.2 user’s guide. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA.
Taye, M., Yilma, M., Rischkowsky, B., Dessie, T., Okeyo, M., Mekuriaw, G., Haile, A., 2016. Morphological characteristics and linear body measurements of Doyogena sheep in Doyogena district of SNNPR, Ethiopia. African J. Agric. Res. 11, 4873–4885. doi:https://doi.org/10.5897/AJAR2016.11826
Terfa, Z.G., Haile, A., Baker, D., Kassie, G.T., 2013. Valuation of traits of indigenous sheep using hedonic pricing in Central Ethiopia. Agric. Food Econ. 1, 1. doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/2193-7532-1-6
Tibbo, M., 2006. Productivity and health of indigenous sheep breeds and crossbreds in the central Ethiopian highlands. Doctoral Thesis, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Uppsala, Sweden.
The staff of the Department of Animals Science at Debre Berhan Agricultural Research Center and enumerators and farmers in Menz CBBPs are greatly acknowledged for their contributions in data collection.
The on-station Menz sheep breeding program is financed by the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) and Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. The Menz sheep community-based breeding program is funded by International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Ethiopia, and ARARI.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Getachew, T., Abebe, A., Gizaw, S. et al. Coat color alterations over the years and their association with growth performances in the Menz sheep central nucleus and community-based breeding programs. Trop Anim Health Prod (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-020-02315-5
- Selection against black
- Coat color
- Farmer’s criteria