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The reproductive performance of two British breeds of sheep in contrasting photoperiodic environments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 March 2009

H. Ll. Williams
Affiliation:
Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Hygiene, The Royal Veterinary College, Boltons Park, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire

Summary

The reproductive performance of breeding and cyclic Welsh Mountain (WM) and Border Leicester (BL) ewes was compared in two contrasting photoperiodic environments during January 1971–April 1972. Treatment 1 consisted of natural daylength changes at latitude 51° 43’ N. There was no difference between the two breeds in onset of the breeding season, percentage exhibiting oestrus or percentage lambing. The breeding season of BL ewes terminated earlier (mean date, 31 January) than that of WM ewes (mean date, 9 March). The WM ewes had 8–12 oestrous periods and the BL ewes 7–11 oestrous periods. In treatment 2 a simulated equatorial photoperiod (13 h light: 11 h dark) was applied from January 1971 but was inadvertently interrupted by a short period of continuous light in June 1971. All WM ewes exhibited oestrus compared with 37·5% of BL ewes. The failure to show oestrus in the majority of BL ewes contributed to the marked difference between breeds in the percentage of ewes lambing: 88·9% in WM compared with 11·1% in BL ewes. In the cyclic subgroup, the WM ewes had 3–10 oestrous periods and the BL ewes, 2–7 oestrous periods.

It is concluded that the breeds showed a differential response to the two treatments and that Treatment 2 had a marked adverse effect on the reproductive potential of the Border Leicester ewes.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1974

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References

Beaty, T. & Williams, H. Ll. (1970). The breeding performance of two breeds of parent and offspring groups of ewes in an equatorial environment. The British Veterinary Journal 126, vii–ix.Google Scholar
Beaty, T. & Williams, H. Ll. (1971 a). The reproductive performance of British breeds of sheep in an equatorial environment. 1. Mountain breeds. The British Veterinary Journal 127, 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beaty, T. & Williams, H. Ll. (1971 b). The reproductive performance of British breeds of sheep in an equatorial environment. 2. Lowland breeds. The British Veterinary Journal 127, 1019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hafez, E. S. E. (1952). Studies on the breeding season and reproduction of the ewe. The Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 42, 189265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thwaites, C. J. (1965). Photoperiodic control of breeding activity in the Southdown ewe with particular reference to the effects of an equatorial light regime. The Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 65, 5764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williams, H. Ll. (1973). The interaction of genotype and environment on the reproductive performance of sheep. The Proceedings of the VIIth International Congress of Animal Reproduction and Artificial Insemination, Munich, 1972.Google Scholar
Williams, H. Ll. & Jackson, G. (1971). The short-term effects of a simulated transfer to higher latitudes on breeding ewes. The British Veterinary Journal 127, 366–71.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Yeates, N. T. M. (1949). The breeding season of sheep with particular reference to its modification by artificial means using light. The Journal of Agricultural Science 39, 143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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