Tusheti Sheep

Ark of taste
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The Tusheti breed of hair sheep is bred for meat, wool and dairy production in the Kakheti region found in the highlands of eastern Georgia. The breed gets its name from the ethnographic group of Georgians called the Tush people or Tusheti, whose livelihoods are mainly centered around farming and sheep breeding. It is a breed that emerged out of selection in Georgia around the 13th or 14th centuries to be a year-round grazing animal. Fat is deposited on the sacrum, thighs and upper tail, with the end of the tail being skinny and bent. These sheep are relatively small, with rams averaging 60-65 kg and ewes 40-45kg. Females are usually hornless. Wool is white, elastic, strong and shiny, and usually used for carpet production.

These sheep are milked daily for two months in the summer, and produce only about a single full glass per milking. However, the fat content is over seven percent. In one lactation period, a ewe will produce 10-15 liters of marketable milk. Traditionally, this milk is used to produce tushuri guda, a local type of cheese. In late July, the animals are prepared for their annual shearing, and are moved to winter pastures in the valley where they give birth to a single lamb (or, more rarely, two lambs). In May, the sheep are again moved to the Tusheti mountains to their summer pastures. Tusheti sheep are very well adapted to these local mountain conditions.

In 2015, there were only two villages with inhabitants who are breeding the Tusheti sheep in its traditional territory. The process is semi-nomadic and requires much time and effort. Sheep of the same breed that are not pastured all year round begin to lose the main characteristics of the breed, and cease to produce milk with the characteristics necessary to produce traditional tushuri guda cheese.

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Production area:Akhmeta District, Alazani river valley

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Breeds and animal husbandry

Indigenous community:Tush
Nominated by:Angor Gogotidze