The lohi sheep a meat breed of Pakistan

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This article describes the characteristics of Lohi sheep along with husbandry practices, phenotypic measurements, and their production and reproduction performance. The Lohi is one of the best sheep breeds of Pakistan. This breed is found in the central districts of Punjab. Its rapid

INTRODUCTION
Pakistan has as many as 28 indigenous sheep breeds. These
are classified into thin tail and fat tail breeds. Lohi sheep
are one of the important thin tail mutton breeds available in
the central districts of Punjab province (Pakistan). The
breed exhibits an excellent capacity to adapt to these areas.
Lohi is one of the massive and highly productive breeds
which comprises some 40% of the Punjab and 15% of the
national sheep population (FAO, 1997). Lohi breed is
known for its rapid growth rate and multiple births (Khalil
and Khan, 1984). In addition to meat, this breed also
produces adequate amount of carpet wool. An attempt is
made to describe herein the characteristics of Lohi sheep
along with husbandry practices and their productive and
reproductive performance.
Breed Characteristics: Lohi is a fairly large-sized breed.
The adult male weighs 62 kg and the female about 45 kg
(Babar, 1994). They have white body colour with reddishbrown or dark-brown head and ears. The ears are long and
pendulous with an appendage on their external surface
locally called 'Parkan' (Khan et al., 1984 and Hasnain,
1985). They have a prominent roman nose. Neck is well set,
strong and well-developed particularly in males. Both sexes
are polled (Anonymous, 2001). Lohies have well-developed
body, broad loin and a short stumpy tail (Khan et al., 1984).
Udder and teats are moderately developed (Anonymous,
1999). Legs are long, thin and covered with wool. The
average height, length and girth measurements are 65, 62
and 82 cm with a range from 60 to 75, 55 to 70 and 72 to 97
respectively (Hasnain, 1985).
Husbandry Practices: Sheep husbandry is closely related
with crop husbandry and sheep survive almost entirely on
grazing and crop residues. They may be supplemented with
shrubs, dry grass, tree leaves and pods and under special
situations with some concentrates. Individual farmers graze
their flocks, but generally several flocks are grazed together
by a hired shepherd who may himself own a few sheep. The
shepherd or grazier is paid in cash or kind. A common
practice is to share (up to 50%) the progeny of the grazed
flock. The flocks are taken to community pastures, road
sides or to the canal banks for grazing. Flocks also graze on
stubbles after crop harvesting. Trees may also be looped for
leaves.


The flocks are taken out after collecting the sheep from
their owners for grazing early in the morning and brought
back to the village late in the evening. Grazing starts in the
early hours of the day and continues until evening except
during peak hours of scorching heat. In between the animals
are brought to the water points for watering. Both males
and femal:s .are allowed to graze together. Housing is
generally limited to open and may have a mudlbrick wall
around, but use of thorny bushes is common to prevent the
fl.ock from etting out and the predators from getting in at
night. In wmter, roofed sheds are used for housing the
sheep. In most cases, the graziers sleep close to their flocks.
Lambs are allowed to suckle for about 4 to 5 months. Most
breeders allow the lambs to accompany their ewes to
pastures as soon as they are able to walk, but in some areas
the lambs are grazed separately and only allowed to suckle
twice each day. In most of these cases, the owners take
some share of the milk for family use. Mismothering occurs
in flocks, which graze separately from lambs but exact
records for disowning the lambs are often not kept. At the
government farms, where the lambs graze with their
mothers until weaning, the incidence of mismothering is
reported to be 1.4% in Lohi (Ishaque, 1993). While
studying the various classes of Lohi sheep the flocks were
reported to have on average 21.7% lambs, post-weaned
16%, hoggets 19.4%, ewes 41.5% and rams 1.4%.
Proportion of lambs in the flocks during different seasons
reflected that lambing continued throughout the year with
peak during spring season. This practice poses lamb rearing
problems. Thus there is a need to revert to seasonal
breeding for better lamb survival and proper flock
management. Proportion of post-weaned males and hoggets
is drastically reduced during the months following sale at
"Ei~-ul~Azha", a Muslim annual festival involving
sacn.ficlal slaughter of sheep, goats, etc. to meet a religious
requirement.
Production Characteristics: The average birth, weaning
and adult weights of Lohi males and females are 3.6, 3.4,
27, 24, 61 and 45 kg respectively. The estimates of these
weights during different years ranged from 3.6 to 4.1 kg;
3.2 to 3.6 kg; 20 to 31 kg; 19 to 28 kg; 71 to 89 kg and 41
to 53 kg respectively (Khan et aI., 1962-71). Dressing
percentage has been reported to vary from 50 to 55. Male
animals are always heavier than their female counterparts at
all ages (Sinha and Singh, 1997). The result of the studies
conducted at the Livestock Production Research Institute
(LPRI), Bahadurnagar, Okara have shown that average preweaning daily weight gain was 0.168±0.047 kg while postweaning gain was 0.037±0.021 kg (Rehman et aI., 1994).
However, Zaheer (1997) reported that the weight gain in
lambs up to one month of age was 125 g per day (0.125
kg/d), which reduced to 105 g (0.105 kg) at the age of
weaning (4 months). Weaning weight was 1].32±0.48 kg.
Body weight of post-weaned lambs at 9 months of age was
30.52 kg and males weighed 14.9% heavier than females.

he comparison between the production levels of close
monitoring (CM) and for mass extension (ME) flocks was
also studied. It was found that the lambs in CM flocks were
heavier at birth and at weaning than those in ME flocks.
Body condition score of lambs in CM flocks averaged
2.07±0.05 as against 1.89±0.07 in ME flocks (Zaheer,
1997). Post-weaned lambs in CM flocks at 9 months of age
were 7% heavier than those in ME flocks. The ewes in CM
flocks weighed 14% heavier than those in ME flocks
(38.3±0.38 kg vs 33.6±0.38 kg). Variation in body weight
(BW) and body condition scores (BCS) of the ewes in these
two types of flocks was significant (Zaheer, 1997).
Studies conducted at LPRI, Bahadurnagar outreach
programme (Zaheer, 1997) showed that improved breeding
and modern husbandry techniques can help to increase body
weight by at least 33% over that of existing level in
farmer's flocks. Lambing rate can be improved by 8% and
improvement in lamb survival is possible by 4.5%. The
daily weight gain of male and female post-weaned lambs
was 93 g and 61 g respectively. The heritability estimates of
birth weight, weaning weight, both pre- and post-weaning
growth rates were 0.053±0.044, 0.131±0.059, 0.1 87±0.068
and 0.078±0.049 respectively (Rehman et aI., 1994).
Genetic, phenotypic and environmental correlationsbetween
some production traits are given in Table I.
The overall body weight in Lohi ewes averaged 36.23±0.59
kg and it was significantly affected by the age and the
reproductive status of the ewes (Zaheer, 1997). The mean
for the body condition score was 2.34 ± 0.04. The body
weight in the hogget ewes was 33.51±0.65 kg with body
condition score of 2.36±0.09. They showed an increase of
9.48% at 24 months, 16.14% at 36 months and 17.34% at
48 months of age over the hogget weight (Table 2). Body
weight of pregnant ewes decreased by 17.7% after lambing
and body condition deteriorated by 26.3% which indicated
sub-optimal feeding of the ewes during the critical period
after lambing.
Some correction factors for birth and weaning weights of
the Lohi flock maintained at LPR1, Bahadurnagar over a ten
year period reported by Mackintosh (1993) are given in
Table 3. These correction factors can be used for removing
the environmental difference which affect the individual
animal and hide its relative genetic potential. The Lohi
ewes produce hardly enough milk for their lambs and as
such are not generally milked. The average milk yield is
120 kg with 6.3% butter fat during 120-day lactation period
(Ishaque and Khan, 1963-1971).
Shearing of animals is done twice a year i.e. in spring
(March-April) and then in autumn (September-October).
The average annual greasy fleece yield from adults is
2.70±0.03 kg (Babar, 1994) but good specimens can yield
as much as 4.5 kg wool per annum. The average fibre
diameter and staple length of fleece of adult animals has
been reported as 40;2 Il and 52 mm, respectively. The
percentage of true, heterotypic, medullated and kemp fibre
is 53.5, 27.6,15.2 and 3.7 respectively (Abidi, 1964). There
​ is a wide diversity in various production traits of this breed
which suggest that there is ample scope for improvement of
its productive performance.
Reproductive Performance: Since the rams and ewes are
housed and grazed together, no controlled mating is
practised at farmer's level. The animals are naturally bred.
However, in Government and commercial farms controlled
mating is resorted to. Culling is carried out at about six
months age or so. Some males are selected for breeding
mainly on the basis of their size and conformation. Others
are disposed off. Most of the females are retained. No
record of any type is maintained except for flocks at state
farms/experiment stations. A few progressive farmers also
maintain records of their flocks. The average age at first
mating has been reported as 14-18 months.
There are two distinct breeding seasons that is mid
February to the end of March and mid September to the end
of October. The proportion of ewes lambing during spring
is the highest (55.08%), whereas it is the lowest in autumn
(29.55%). The proportion of ewes classified by
reproductive status during different seasons is presented in
Table 4.
Twinning percentage in this breed is estimated at 33%
(Saleem et al., 1962-71). It was reported that ewe lambs
with heavy liveweights at first breeding were superior both
in productive and reproductive performance to those with
low liveweights (Ahmad, 1983). Fertility rate in ewes was
90.4% in CM flocks compared with 86.9% in ME flocks
(Zaheer, 1997). Lambing rate 1 was 76.1 % in CM flocks
and 66.9% in ME flocks, while lambing rate 2 was 84.8%
in CM flocks and 69.7% in ME flocks (Table 5). Twice a
year lambing by exploiting the high incidence of postlambing oestrus and using Estrumate twice at an interval of
12 days in anoestrus ewes has been reported in Lohi sheep.
The ewes bred twice a year can yield an additional lamb
weight of 12.7 kg at 120 days of age per ewe bred, with a
net saving of Rs. 104 per ewe (Saleem and Shah, 1983).
Various estimates of reproduction parameters of the Lohi
breed are presented in Table 6.
Mortality: Mortality at all ages, particularly from birth to

weaning, is a serious problem in the sheep industry of
Pakistan. Survival rates of lambs from birth to weaning are
usually lower for multiple-born than single-born lambs, but
in developed countries are seldom less than half in case of
twins (Lax and Turner, 1965). The information available
about sheep mortality as given in the reports of LPRI,
Bahadurnagar during different years indicates an average
mortality of 9% in lambs (Anonymous, 1994-1997), which
probably does not reflect a true picture. The most important
cause of mortality in young animals is pneumonia, mainly
due to bacterial infection, and in adults parasitic infestation.
Mortality rates for lambs in CM flocks and ME flocks were
reported as 7.8% and 20.5% respectively (Zaheer, 1997).
Recommendations and Suggestions: Lohi sheep possess
a vast potential for further development. It is important that
the real place of sheep in the agricultural economy of the
country should be accurately determined so that attention
may be focused on it according to its share in GDP,
. especially for the welfare of a vast majority of landless and
small farmers whose only or the major source of livelihood
is sheep production. It is suggested that different aspects of
Lohi sheep be scientifically investigated so that its exact
potential is fully exploited.
The adoption of better health control measures and
improved production practices will result in healthy and
more productive Lohi sheep. Higher lamb survival rate is
apt to enhance dividends over the cost incurred for adoption
of improved production practices. In addition, the following
areas are suggested for further investigation:
o Improvement through selection within a breed.
o Raising of Lohi sheep under different
managemental conditions and studying their
growth pattern from birth to slaughter.
o Studying the performance of Lohi sheep kept
under different economical feeding regimes.
o Studying the economics of meat production from
Lohi males.

o Post-slaughter handling methods and their possible
improvement in our set up.
o Whether breeding Lohi sheep twice a year is
economical and not detrimental to the ewes and
the lambs obtained therefrom?