Assaf Sheep Facts, Lambing Cycle, Milk Production, Weight, Meat Quality

The Assaf dairy sheep breed is a hybrid between Awassi and East Friesian breeds, has substituted the Awassi as the desired breed in its homeland of Israel, and has expanded to other Mediterranean regions. The Assaf breed is maintained in Israel using an efficient production method that includes weaning lambs at birth, artificially rearing them, and milking ewes after gestation.

    Assaf Sheep Characteristics

    Assaf sheep are moderate size animals with a white face and a white coat. Polled rams and ewes are both common. Over the last 85 years, Israeli sheep farmers have worked to improve the Awassi breed. The Awassi sheep's disadvantage is its rate of reproduction. Ewes normally lamb once a year and give birth to only one lamb. 

    Researchers at the Israeli agricultural research farm commenced the advancement project in 1955, intending to enhance the productivity of the Awassi by crossbreeding the improved Israeli Awassi with the German East Friesian variety, which is recognized for both high milk production and productivity but is not well-suited to the climatic conditions in Israel. They discovered that a mix of 3/8 East Friesian and 5/8 Awassi produced the optimal level of vitality, dairy production, and fertility rate.

    Assaf Sheep Facts, Lambing Cycle, Milk Production, Weight, Meat Quality

    Assaf Sheep Lambing Cycle

    The Assaf, a recent cross-bred that blends the best attributes of the Awassi and East Friesian, yields 450 liters of milk per year on average. They are considerably more prolific, with an average of about 3 lambings every 2 years and an average of 1.6 lambs per lambing. 

    The Assaf are resilient and tough animals who are well adjusted to their environment. They are raised and treated in Israel under a rigorous production environment. With growing popularity, the demand for this breed is on the rise each year. The breed has expanded to other Countries (Portugal and Spain) and has been marketed to Chile, Peru, and the United States, in addition to its native area.

    Assaf Sheep Milk Production

    Most Israeli sheep breeders have bred these animals for dairy production, well adjusted to semi-extensive to extensive management systems, the ewes are excellent milk suppliers, yielding nearly 450 kg milk per year.

    Assaf Sheep Weight

    The Assaf sheep takes 10-12 months to get fully mature and the average weight of fully grown Assaf sheep is approximately 70-90 kg.

    Assaf Sheep Meat Quality

    Assaf sheep are mainly intended for dairy production, however, they are also regarded for their quality meat. Most of the farmers prefer this breed due to its adaptations to local climate and resilience to diseases and pests.

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