Effect of feeding regime on skin/leather characteristics of f1 crossbreed sheep in the highlands of Ethiopia
This study was conducted to determine the effects of different levels of concentrate supplementation on the skin quality attributes of Awassi X Bonga (AB), Awassi X Washera (AW) & Dorper X Menz (DM) crossbreed sheep. Forty-four lambs were assigned in to three-breed & three-concentrate supplementation groups each based on body weight, randomly. Experimental animals were kept on natural pasture grazing dominated by Andropogon longipes grasses, the legume Trifolium species & were supplemented 300, 600- and 900-gram concentrate. The concentrate feed had 21% crude protein & 14 MJ/kg metabolizable energy on a dry matter basis with a composition of 49.5% wheat bran, 49.0% Noug cake (Guizotia abyssinica), 1% limestone and 0.5% salt. After completion of the 90 days of experimental period, animals were slaughtered & fresh skins were taken to the Leather Industry Development Institute (LIDI) for skin quality-related tests. Higher level of concentrate supplementation (900g) significantly (p<0.05) improved skin weight, size, thickness & tear load. However, supplementation level did not show significant difference (p>0.05) on moisture content at raw & wet blue stage, fat content & hide substance percentage. Except thickness, average tear load & moisture content for raw skin, which was higher (p<0.05) for DM than AB & AW, all physico-chemical tests were not significantly (p>0.05) different among the breeds. Nevertheless, for some of the values of quality parameters, skins from DM, 900g supplementation level are by far better. It can be concluded that skins from DM, AB & AW, 300-900g concentrate supplementation levels in the diet improves production of leather that meet the acceptable range set by LIDI. Further studies on skin quality attributes including the high and lowland indigenous sheep breeds along with their different blood levels of cross breed is suggested.
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