Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 September 2010
Scottish Blackface (BF) and East Friesland × Scottish Blackface (EFX) ewes rearing single or twin lambs grazed for 14 weeks of lactation on two different pasture types in two consecutive years. Mean daily milk production, live-weight change and herbage intake of the ewes and live-weight gain of the lambs were measured each week.
In the first year the ewes grazed a ryegrass/clover sward. There were significant differences in milk production associated with breed of ewe and number of lambs reared. Peak yields, achieved in the 3rd or 4th week, reached 2·25, 2·5 and 3·25 kg/day for BF ewes with a single lamb and EFX ewes with single or twin lambs, respectively. Corresponding yields in the 14th week were 0·5, 1·35 and 1·15 kg/day. Live weight of ewes in all groups declined during the first 2 weeks but recovered by week 6. Herbage intake increased in all groups until the 8th week and then declined much more rapidly in the BF than in the EFX ewes. Lamb growth was related to milk intake to give weaning weights of 31·5, 39·0 and 29·0 kg, respectively.
In the second year, when ewes grazed a hill pasture dominated by an AgrostislFestuca community, differences in milk production, though significant, were smaller than in the previous year. Peak yields were 2·1, 2·25, 2·25 and 3·1 kg/day, respectively, for BF ewes with single or twin lambs and EFX ewes with single or twin lambs. At 14 weeks, yields had fallen to between 0·6 and 1·0 kg/day. The patterns of live-weight change and food intake were similar to those in the previous year. The EFX ewes consumed more food than BF ewes throughout lactation, particularly in the second half. Lamb growth rate was again related to milk supply and was lower than in the previous year. Weaning weights were 31·0, 25·5, 34·5 and 27·0 kg for single or twin lambs reared by BF or EFX ewes, respectively.