Israeli researchers have developed a DNA test that will allow the desert-dwelling Bedouin tribes to detect which of their sheep have a gene that makes them more likely to produce multiple offspring.
With the cost of animal feed rising as well, a new technology that helps Bedouin tribes increase the size of their flock without hurting their bottom line makes sense, but we don’t recommend that you try this at home! Aviv Kahana, the molecular biologist who led the team that developed the DNA testing kit at Bactochem Labs in Israel, told the Jerusalem Post that for less than $20 they can detect which of the fat-tailed Awassi sheep possess the “Double Ewe” gene that makes them more likely to produce twins (or more).
According to the paper, roughly four years ago agricultural researchers from the Israeli Volcani Center introduced the Afec sheep into existing Awassi herds – a hardy species that has adapted to harsh desert environment. The two breeds proceeded to mingle, shall we say, creating something of a super hybrid sheep with a reduced mortality rate and increased incidence of multiple births.
Once tested, the hyper-fertile females are then selected for breeding to increase lamb yield. No longer so nomadic, the more sedentary Bedouin can afford the extra time it takes to care for these additional offspring, and they can make a decent amount of money by selling extra lambs.
And what about the sheep that only produce one lamb at a time? Well, sadly for them, they’re more likely to get the chop! And believe it or not, Sheep Tail’s Fat is high in demand.
See more at the Jerusalem Post, where the original story appeared.