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The effect of weight at mating and of nutrition during mid-pregnancy on the birth weight of lambs from primiparous ewes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 March 2009

A. J. F. Russel
Affiliation:
Hill Farming Research Organisation, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0PY
Janet Z. Foot
Affiliation:
Hill Farming Research Organisation, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0PY
I. R. White
Affiliation:
Hill Farming Research Organisation, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0PY
G. J. Davies
Affiliation:
ARC Unit of Statistics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ

Summary

Forty-eight approximately 18-month-old Scottish Blackface ewes were used to study the effects of two levels of nutrition during mid-pregnancy (30–98 days of gestation) on the birth weight of lambs from ewes varying in weight, size and condition at first mating. The mean live weight (42–4 kg), size index (31–9) and condition score (2–4) at mating of the 26 ewes from flock A were all less than those of the 22 ewes from flock B (54–5, 39–4 and 2–9 respectively). Mean intakes of the low and high nutritional treatment ewes during mid-pregnancy were 10–6 and 22–0 g/kg/day respectively of a pelleted diet supplying 8–81 MJ metabolizable energy and 125–5 g crude protein/kg. These intakes produced estimated changes in net maternal weight of approximately – 5 and 0 kg respectively.

Mean lamb birth weights from ewes on the low and high nutritional treatments were:flock A, 3–32 and 3–83 kg; flock B, 4–96 and 4–23 kg respectively. Analyses showed intake during mid-pregnancy to have a positive effect on lamb birth weight in the flock A ewes, and a negative effect in flock B ewes. Mating weight accounted for 78% of the variance in birth weight in the low nutritional treatment ewes but had little effect in those on the higher level of feeding.

The practical implications of the results are discussed in relation to levels of juvenile nutrition.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1981

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