Introduction

Sheep are one of the most common species of livestock in the world and were the first to be domesticated. Sheep inhabit many parts of the world from the deserts of Africa to the high mountains of South America. They are adapted to a variety of management systems from a few animals sharing a portion of the human living quarters, to groups of 1000 or more roaming the Alta Plana in the Andes, to the deserts of Outer Mongolia. Sheep vary considerably in a variety of production characteristics, temperament, longevity, herding, and mothering instincts. Not all sheep, are suited for all environments. To raise healthy sheep, it is therefore necessary to select a line or breed of sheep to match the environment and the resources that are available, or to develop a composite breed.

Climatic conditions, feed resources, management system, and desired end product (meat, milk, or fiber) dictate the type of sheep best suited for each enterprise. Each factor must be considered in order to achieve optimum production and health of the animals. Producing healthy animals starts with selection that matches the animal to the environment and available resources. First, determine the available resources and the environmental limitations; then match the type of sheep that will give optimal production with the resources available.

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