Hotroom treatment of ewes during the last two-thirds of gestation resulted in the birth of lambs which were significantly lighter than lambs born to nutritionallydeprived ewes. Neither high temperature nor undernutrition had significant effect on the density of either primary or immature secondary wool follicles, but the total number of mature secondary follicles tended to decline in the lambs from unheated ewes as the level of nutrition declined, and was significantly reduced by a further 30 % in the hotroom group.
In a second experiment, heated and unheated ewes fed to appetite were compared with unheated ewes pair-fed to the hotroom level of feed intake. High temperature had no apparent effect on maternal wool growth, but did reduce total wool follicle number in new-born lambs by approximately 50%. This effect was most marked with respect to mature secondary follicles (only 18% of unheated mean), less so in immature secondaries (56% of unheated mean), and barely discernible amongst primary follicles (93% of unheated mean). None of the differences in follicle numbers between the two unheated groups was significant.
The results suggest that the effects of high temperature on wool follicle development in the sheep foetus are akin to those of extreme undernutrition.