Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 September 2010
The response of finishing Blackface lambs (mean initial live weight 29·6 kg) to shearing and level of concentrate supplementation on a silage-based diet was examined in two experiments. Silage intake decreased as concentrate level increased at mean rate of 0·13 and 0·26 g silage dry matter (DM) per g concentrate DM, in experiments 1 and 2 respectively, with no significant differences between unshorn and shorn lambs. Lambs gained 36, 97, 135, 193 and 224 g/day (s.e. 9·1; P < 0·001) in experiment 1 and 97,133,170,185 and 222 g/day (s.e. 9·9; P < 0·001) in experiment 2 when 0, 200, 400, 600 g/day and concentrate ad libitum were offered respectively. Shearing increased silage DM intake from a mean of 0·50 to 0·56 kg/day (s.e. 0·016; P < 0·05) in experiment 1, and from 0·80 to 0·90 kg/day (s.e. 0·013; P < 0·001) in experiment 2. There was no interaction between shearing and the level of concentrate offered. Despite higher DM intakes by shorn lambs, their live-weight gains were lower than those of unshorn lambs. Gains of unshorn and shorn lambs averaged 153 and 120 g/day (s.e. 5·8; P < 0·001) in experiment 1 and 162 and 161 g/day (s.e. 5·7; P > 0·05) in experiment 2 respectively. This appears to have resulted because shorn lambs could not fully compensate for their increased energy requirements after shearing, by increasing their DM intake. Shearing did not significantly influence carcass characteristics.
It was calculated that with lambs gaining 150 g/day, concentrate requirement was increased from 286 to 335 g/day and total DM intake from 965 to 1107 g/day as a result of shearing.
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