Growth and survival of 3673 female and cryptorchid lambs representing the range of types (second cross, first cross and Merino) produced in the Australian lamb industry are reported. The lambs were sired by a selection of Poll Dorset (D; no. = 7), Texel (T; no. = 10), Border Leicester (BL; no. = 12) and Merino (M; no. = 12) rams and born to Border Leicester × Merino (BLM) and Merino (M) dams, which resulted in six lamb genotypes (D×BLM, T×BLM, D×M, T×M, BL×M and M×M). The second cross lambs (D×BLM, T×BLM) were heavier at birth, weaning and post-weaning and had higher growth rates, than first cross lambs (D×M, T×M, BL×M), which were higher than M×M lambs (P< 0·01). For post-weaning weight (cryptorchids at 156 days) second cross lambs were 4·2 (s.e. 0·3) kg heavier than comparable sired first cross lambs, with the BL×M 2·6 (s.e. 0·5) kg lighter than other first cross types and the MxM a further 4·2 (s.e. 0·6) kg lighter. The average advantage of D over T crosses was 1·0 kg for post-weaning weight, with greater variation amongst individual sires.
Lamb survival to weaning was 76% and it was affected by birth weight and birth type (P< 0·01). Sire breed had no significant effect on lamb survival, whereas lambs from BLM ewes had higher survival than those from M ewes (P< 0·01).
Overall the proportion of ewes lambing was 84% with a mean litter size of 1·77. There was no difference infertility between AI (thawed frozen semen and laparoscopic insemination) and natural (single sire) mating, although the M were higher than the BLM ewes (P< 0·01). Gestation length was 2·3 days shorter (P< 0·01) for BLM than M ewes and there was no difference between D and T sire breeds. There was little effect of birth type on gestation length but it increased with birth weight within birth type categories. Between year repeatability of gestation length for ewes was 0·33 (s.e. 0·05).