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The effect of late pregnancy supplementation of ewes with vitamin E on lamb vigour

  • J. A. Rooke (a1), S. Matheson (a1), S. Ison (a1), M. Jack (a1), C. J. Ashworth (a1) (a2) and C. M. Dwyer (a1)...

Abstract

The experiment measured lamb responses to supplementation of the pregnant ewe diet with vitamin E above requirement. Crossbred ewes were mated with either Suffolk or Texel rams. Twin-bearing ewes were randomly allocated (approximately 21 months of age at allocation) to one of four treatment groups (20 ewes per group, 10 mated with Suffolk and 10 with Texel rams). Treatments imposed were 50, 100, 150 or 250 IU supplementary vitamin E per ewe per day to give a four treatment by two sire-type factorial experimental design. Ewes were fed concentrates to meet energy requirements for stage of pregnancy and hay ad libitum. Diets were introduced approximately 6 weeks before lambing. Blood samples were obtained prior to introduction of diets, 17 days after introduction of diets and within 24 h of lambing from a subset of eight ewes per treatment (32 total). Colostrum samples were obtained from 10 ewes per treatment, 12 h after birth of the first lamb. All births were observed and a lamb vigour score was assigned to each lamb 5 min after birth. At 1 and 12 h after birth, rectal temperature, and at 12 h after birth, sex, crown-rump length and BW of each lamb were recorded. Mean ewe plasma α-tocopherol concentration prior to introduction of the diets was 1.5 μg/ml (s.e.m. 0.09) and did not differ between groups. There were positive linear (P < 0.001) effects of dietary vitamin E on plasma (17 days after introduction of diets) and colostrum (12 h after birth) α-tocopherol concentrations. Lamb vigour scores were superior (P < 0.001) for lambs sired by Texel rather than Suffolk rams but there were no differences as a result of vitamin E supplementation. Lamb mortality was low and unrelated to either sire or supplementary vitamin E. Lamb birth and weaning weights were also unaffected by vitamin E supplementation. Supplementing the ewe with vitamin E therefore had no effect on any lamb measurements.

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Keywords

The effect of late pregnancy supplementation of ewes with vitamin E on lamb vigour

  • J. A. Rooke (a1), S. Matheson (a1), S. Ison (a1), M. Jack (a1), C. J. Ashworth (a1) (a2) and C. M. Dwyer (a1)...

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