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Abstract

This paper points out that several breeds of prolific sheep in the world possess a major gene for prolificacy. However, the existence of such a major gene in the prolific breeds of hair sheep in the Caribbean remains to be researched. This paper assumes that this gene (F) exists in the Barbados Blackbelly sheep and goes on to outline a strategy to exploit it for the benefit of the small farmer as well as the large private producer. The strategy aims at developing one type of sheep for the small farmer by selective reduction in the frequency of the F gene thereby reducing the frequency of multiple births. The development of another type of highly prolific sheep is suggested for use by the large producer through selective increase in the frequency of the F gene. Large producer is expected to employ high levels of feeding and management including artificial rearing of lambs so as to minimize mortality of multiplets. The paper further discusses within breed selection for genetic improvement in general fitness of hair sheep. In this connection, the development of an open nucleus flock is suggested involving cooperation among participant smallholders.

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