Non-breeding groups, I, II and III, each with six high-potassium (HK) and six lowpotassium(LK) Chokla ewes were given water once in 24, 48 and 72 h respectively. In the next summer, seven ewes (4 HK and 3 LK) from each group I, II and III were switched over to a watering schedule of once in 24, 72 and 96 h respectively and were naturally bred. All the animals were maintained on grazing alone.
Water deprivation for 72 h caused 18·8 and 19·2% body weight loss in HK and LKewes respectively; an overall average maintenance of weight loss in LK ewes was significantly higher than in HK ewes from the same group. There were significant differences in water intake due to treatments only. The HK and LK ewes from groups I and III showed a similar trend.
Pregnant ewes of HK and LK types given water once in 96 h lost 21·7 and 23·8% of their body weights respectively. Corresponding weight loss in aborted ewes were 23·8 and 33·3%. Two ewes, each from 3 LK and 4 HK animals aborted owing to water deprivation for 96 h. The water intake reached 30 and 36·5% of body weight in LK and HK pregnant ewes given water intermittently.
The wool attributes of non-pregnant ewes did not indicate a significant influence of blood potassium types. Four out of five ewes of the LK phenotype died during 3 years, irrespective of watering schedule.