Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 March 2009
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.