Background and Aim: Milk plays a crucial role in the income generation of sheep breeders, particularly in certain regions of Albania. Sheep milk is used in the production of various local dairy products and is highly preferred by consumers. Sheep milk processing also serves as a foundation for agrotourism development in rural and remote areas. The current study aimed to determine the milk yield and milk fat content of three sheep breeds, specifically two Albanian local breeds (Shkodrane and Lara e Polisit) and one imported breed (Awassi).
Method: The research was conducted at the Centre of Agricultural Technology Transfer in the Korca region located in Southeast Albania. A total of 96 ewes were used in the study. Milk recording and sample collection for fat content analyzing were performed monthly for a period of six months, from April to September. (2022). The study analyzed the average daily milk yield and milk fat content of each breed.
Results: The results indicated that Lara e Polisit breed had an average daily milk yield of 1.06±0.80 kg, Shkodrane breed had 1.32±0.81 kg, and Awassi breed had 1.37±0.81 kg. The breed effect explained 82% of the variation in daily milk yield. The peak milk production for all breeds occurred in April-May. After the peak, milk production gradually declined. In terms of milk fat content, Lara e Polisit breed had the highest content with a mean of 6.61±1.82%, followed by Shkodrane breed with 6.149±0.70%, and the Awassi breed with 6.22±0.47%. The difference in milk fat content between Lara e Polisit and the other two breeds was statistically significant (P<0.001). The lactation periods resulted 257.5 ± 8.69 days for Lara e Polisit, 254.2 ± 8.17 days for Shkodrane, and 270.7 ± 10.14 days for Awassi.
Conclusion: The study contributes valuable information about the milk yield, milk fat content, and lactation periods of Shkodrane, Lara e Polisit, and Awassi sheep breeds in the South East region of Albania. The values of milk yield and milk fat reported are within the range of those typically observed for sheep milk. This indicates that the milk production and fat content are consistent with what is expected for sheep.