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Effect of dam weight and pregnancy nutrition on average lactation performance of ewe offspring over 5 years

  • A. M. Paten (a1), S. J. Pain (a1), S. W. Peterson (a1), N. Lopez-Villalobos (a1), P. R. Kenyon (a1) and H. T. Blair (a1)...


The foetal mammary gland is sensitive to maternal weight and nutrition during gestation, which could affect offspring milk production. It has previously been shown that ewes born to dams offered maintenance nutrition during pregnancy (day 21 to 140 of gestation) produced greater milk, lactose and CP yields in their first lactation when compared with ewes born to dams offered ad libitum nutrition. In addition, ewes born to heavier dams produced greater milk and lactose yields when compared with ewes born to lighter dams. The objective of this study was to analyse and compare the 5-year lactation performance of the previously mentioned ewes, born to heavy or light dams that were offered maintenance or ad libitum pregnancy nutrition. Ewes were milked once per week, for the first 6 weeks of their lactation, for 5 years. Using milk yield and composition data, accumulated yields were calculated over a 42-day period for each year for milk, milk fat, CP, true protein, casein and lactose using a Legendre orthogonal polynomial model. Over the 5-year period, ewes born to heavy dams produced greater average milk (P=0.04), lactose (P=0.01) and CP (P=0.04) yields than offspring born to light dams. In contrast, over the 5-year period dam nutrition during pregnancy did not affect average (P>0.05) offspring milk yields or composition, but did increase milk and lactose accumulated yield (P=0.03 and 0.01, respectively) in the first lactation. These results indicate that maternal gestational nutrition appears to only affect the first lactational performance of ewe offspring. Neither dam nutrition nor size affected grand-offspring live weight gain to, or live weight at weaning (P>0.05). Combined these data indicate that under the conditions of the present study, manipulating dam weight or nutrition in pregnancy can have some effects of offspring lactational performance, however, these effects are not large enough to alter grand-offspring growth to weaning. Therefore, such manipulations are not a viable management tool for farmers to influence lamb growth to weaning.


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Present address: Land and Water Flagship, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), GPO Box 1700, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia



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Effect of dam weight and pregnancy nutrition on average lactation performance of ewe offspring over 5 years

  • A. M. Paten (a1), S. J. Pain (a1), S. W. Peterson (a1), N. Lopez-Villalobos (a1), P. R. Kenyon (a1) and H. T. Blair (a1)...


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