by Seyitguly Batyrov
One of the main breeds of sheep in Turkmenistan and in many ways the best breeds of the fat-tail aboriginal sheep in Central Asian is the Saryja.
The Saryja has the best combination of wool and meat production in a highly adaptable breed that can thrive in the desert and semi-desert regions conditions of Turkmenistan. This ability to thrive makes the Saryja the leading breed in Turkmenistan. The Saryja requires little pasture maintenance existing on natural forage, which makes this breed highly profitable in Turkmenistan.
The average live weight of the adult female sheep reaches 55 – 58 kg, with a clip of wool 3.0 – 3.5 kg and that of the rams 70 – 80 kg and 3.5 – 4.5 kg respectively. At the present time, in farmer unions of Turkmenistan the Saryja sheep make up 13 % of the total sheep livestock bred in the republic.
The very best part of Saryja wool livestock is concentrated at the sheep-breeding farms of the Ruhabat, Gokdepe and Bakharly etraps (districts).
In terms of both quality and quantity of wool, the Saryja sheep surpass all the fat-tail sheep breeds. Its wool is categorized as “heterogeneous half-coarse type”. To the touch the wool is mild, sufficiently flexible, mainly white in color with satisfactory sheen. The Saryja wool for the most part is composed of approximately 80 % wool (fluff), 15 – 20 % Hair (intermediate hair), and no more then 5% kemp (barb/aristae).
The white long-staple wool of Saryja sheep is best suited for carpet weaving. World-renowned Turkmen (mainly Teke) rugs with their distinctive ornamentation are traditionally woven with this wool. Moreover, the Saryja wool is widely used in production of wool cloth, knitted garments, artificial fur, and blankets. The demand for Saryja wool is several thousand metric tons per year.
Saryja wool is half-coarse heterogeneous and in terms of colors is divided into white and light gray. The spring Saryja wool is classified according to the quality as Class I and Class II before arriving to the plants for initial treatment and according to the condition as normal, weedy, bur and weedy-bur-defective.
Fleece with braid-type (plait) texture is attributed to the Class I and is mainly composed of wool, hair and small amount of fine kemp. Wool is elastic with little sheen and small crimp. The kemp noticeably stands out above the wool mass. There is no dead hair.
To the Class II we can attribute wool consisting of longer and coarser staple wool than in Class I. The wool and hair fibers prevail over the kemp in terms of quantity. Only insignificant amount of dead hair on the fleece (its edges) is tolerated.
Incomplete fleece and uncontaminated fragments of wool weighing at least 100 grams and more are classified as the (complete) “fleece” wool, uncontaminated fragments of wool weighing less than 100 grams are classified as “fragmentary” wool.
Tensile strength of the normal “fleece” wool is high; easily removable vegetative litter, traces of mange, lesion caused by tick regardless of its location on the fleece and also vegetative litter (burs, sawing) on the secondary parts of fleece (neck, belly, thigh) – each separately or altogether are permissible on areas, not exceeding 10 % as of the total area or weight of fleece.
The high quality wool of the Saryja sheep distinguishes it from the other fat-tail sheep of Central Asia. This and quite high wool clip are main reasons why the Saryja breed is used all over the Central Asian region in improving the wool productivity of the local fat-tail sheep.
Rise in wool productivity is a matter of primary importance and depends mainly on the level of feeding and the condition of work on pedigree selection in flock.
Without proper use pastures and supply of feed, it is not possible to increase the clip and quality of wool.
One of important physical qualities of wool is its length inasmuch as this feature determines the use of wool in the carpet-weaving industry. The optimal is the wool with the fluff zone not longer than 50 mm.
In evaluation of the wool’s quality an important consideration is the degree of evenness along its width. The less is the difference between the total length of the lock of hair and the length of the fluff zone, the better the wool is.
In specific conditions of Turkmenistan the most radical method of clipping the best quality spring wool is to restrict the process to April 15 – May 10 (the “green” period). Afterwards, the grass starts drying up, thus acquiring the ability of picking onto the wool and littering it.
The wool should not be littered with manure and urine. Such wool loses its physical qualities (strength and elasticity) and when washed remains yellow and does not allow producing cloth of desired coloration.
Properly organized, timely and quality clipping guarantees fine wool output and minimization of loss.
A well-balanced plan is devised before the clipping process commences. It must include: the clipping period, location where the wool is clipped, the number of sheep by gender and age, calendar plan for preparing flock for clipping, the number of clipping workers and additional personnel for taking care of sheep and classifying, gathering and packing wool.
In Turkmenistan wool is clipped in the second half of April – the beginning of May and in autumn – from August 15 to September 10.
The spring clipping is commenced when warm weather is ascertained, inasmuch as after clipping sheep may suffer from cold. The clipping should not be started too early also because warm weather and green grass are highly helpful in wool growth and accelerates the process of “wool maturing”. This type of matured wool is easier to clip to the very skin, thus increasing the overall amount of output.
One should not be too late with clipping either for sheep suffer greatly when the weather becomes hot. Besides, the late clipping, as it was mentioned above, leads to wool loss caused by dried-up pasture plants.
With year-round pasture maintenance autumn clipping should be performed timely. If performed too late, sheep cannot grow up enough wool for winter.
Both spring and autumn clippings should be performed in comparably short period not exceeding 10 – 15 days.
To acquire highly valued felt wool, the fat-tail lambs should be clipped at the end of August.
To avoid wool littering, the place where clipping is performed should be cleaned thoroughly from manure and disinfected. The wool should be clipped on wooden floor or some sort of tarpaulin. It is categorically prohibited to clip on bare ground.
Before clipping, sheep should not be fed and watered for at least 12 – 14 hours; otherwise, volvulus (twisting of the intestines) might occur during clipping. Moreover, this way intestine will be purged in a natural manner and thus spontaneous wool littering from urine and feces will be minimized during clipping.
Seyitguly Batyrov, Turkmen Carpets Online