The Awassi, the most common breed of sheep in the Middle East, is a fat-tailed multi-purpose breed used for meat, milk and wool.  Rams are horned, but ewes usually are polled.  Their head and legs are usually white to brown, sometimes including black multi-coloring.  The Awassi evolved over centuries for hardiness, disease resistance and ability to survive in hot and dry environments typical of much of the Middle East.  Recently, they have been selected for milk production.  The fleece usually is used for carpet.  This Syrian Bedouin lady was progressing down the line hand-milking ewes (and goats) tied in a line by their heads in the traditional method.  While this method of milking is used throughout the Middle East, including Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon, machine milking is used in some intensive sheep management situations.  As illustrated in this image, sheep and goats occasionally are managed together in the Middle East.  NAL #5164 and #5165 also illustrate Awassi sheep, and the Image Gallery home page shows a link to Breeds of Livestock including Awassi sheep.

Milking Awassi ewes in Lebanon

Credit: Justen Smith

Digital Credit: Justen Smith

Publisher: None

Rights: Name must appear as a credit whenever the image is used -

Description: The Awassi, the most common breed of sheep in the Middle East, is a fat-tailed multi-purpose breed used for meat, milk and wool. Rams are horned, but ewes usually are polled. Their head and legs are usually white to brown, sometimes including black multi-coloring. The Awassi evolved over centuries for hardiness, disease resistance and ability to survive in hot and dry environments typical of much of the Middle East. Recently, they have been selected for milk production. The fleece usually is used for carpet. This Syrian Bedouin lady was progressing down the line hand-milking ewes (and goats) tied in a line by their heads in the traditional method. While this method of milking is used throughout the Middle East, including Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon, machine milking is used in some intensive sheep management situations. As illustrated in this image, sheep and goats occasionally are managed together in the Middle East. NAL #5164 and #5165 also illustrate Awassi sheep, and the Image Gallery home page shows a link to Breeds of Livestock including Awassi sheep.

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