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The effect of pre-mating nutrition and exposure to the presence of rams on the onset of puberty in Awassi ewe lambs under semi-arid conditions

  • R. Kassem (a1), J. B. Owen (a2) and I. Fadel (a1)

Abstract

Two experiments are described investigating the possibility of advancing puberty in Awassi ewe lambs kept under semi-arid conditions in mid Syria using 197 single ewe lambs in 1982 and 165 in 1984. In both years, the animals were allocated to three groups each given different levels of supplementation with a barley/chopped straw mixture to achieve different levels of pre-mating growth (high, medium and low). In 1984, the three groups were further subdivided into four subgroups each given continuous exposure to teaser rams from different ages. These were 175, 200 and 230 days of age and a control group not given continuous access to the ram. The results for the two experiments showed that a higher proportion of ewe lambs on the high and medium treatments showed oestrus in their first season (H = 88%, M = 72%, L = 41%; P < 0·01). The high level of nutrition also advanced the mean date of first oestrus in the high group by 22 and the age at conception by 16·5 days as compared with the low level.

In the second experiment, no interaction between feeding level and presence of ram was observed and although there were no significant effects on occurrence of oestrus, continuous exposure to vasectomized rams from 175 days reduced mean age at first oestrus by 16 and age at conception by 19 days as compared with the unexposed controls.

It is concluded that these practices have important implications for the efficient use of semi-arid range land by Awassi sheep on a semi-intensive system.

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References

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The effect of pre-mating nutrition and exposure to the presence of rams on the onset of puberty in Awassi ewe lambs under semi-arid conditions

  • R. Kassem (a1), J. B. Owen (a2) and I. Fadel (a1)

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