Feasibility of heart girth models in estimating live weight of fat-long-tailed sheep
Fat deposition in the brisket of Ethiopian fat-long-tailed sheep may interfere with the correlation between heart girth (HG) and live weight (LW), bringing into question the accuracy of HG models for LW prediction that are currently in use. This study assessed the accuracy of published HG-based prediction models of the live weight of Ethiopian sheep breeds. Furthermore, the study identified accurate and robust models that predict the LW of the sheep using HG. Live weight and HG of 1,020 sheep from Bonga, Adilo and Horro breeds were measured. First, data collected from the study was used to gauge the preciseness of previously published prediction models of each breed. Second, the data of individual breeds were divided into a calibration set for model construction and a validation set for model validation. Live weight was regressed on HG to construct simple linear, Box-Cox, quadratic and allometric prediction models. Prediction error of published models was >20%. Models constructed for each breed did not differ in R-2. However, only simple linear models with transformed LW (Adilo: Log(10)(LW) = 0.408 + 0.015*HG, Bonga: Log(10)(LW) = -36.6 + 0.882*HG, Horro: LW0.5 = -1.26 + 0.085*HG) had homogenous residuals and prediction error of <= 10%. Heart girth models currently used to predict LW of Adilo, Bonga and Horro sheep of Ethiopia are not sufficiently accurate as they have PE higher than 10%. Prediction models generated by the current study could replace the published models for an accurate estimation of LW of the three breeds for husbandry, marketing and veterinary purposes.