Monday, 18 August 2014

Sheep of the month - August 2014

Awassi sheep grazing on stubble. Image: Ferrell Jenkins

Breed notes
Awassi sheep are hardy, with a red head and legs, convex face and drooping ears. They are a fat-tailed sheep breed, having the characteristically heavy tail and hindquarters with fat storage deposits. Males are horned and females mostly polled. Awassi fleeces are double-coated with plenty of kemps, in a range of colours from white to brown. Ewes produce relatively large quantities of milk compared to other breeds. Awassi are the most numerous and widespread sheep breed in the Middle East.

Isotope notes
The image shows livestock grazing on the remains of a crop after the grain has been harvested. This manures the field as well as providing late summer/early autumn nutrition for the grazers. This practice will be isotopically visible only if the harvested crops are isotopically distinct from the plants the animals normally eat. Potential examples include: peas or beans in areas with little clover in the pasture (as legumes and non-legumes are isotopically distinct); C4 crops such as maize, millet, sorghum or sugarcane in predominantly C3 plant areas; or if the field crop has been heavily manured.