The effect of three suckling regimes on the lactation performance of Cyprus Fat-tailed, Chios and Awassi sheep and the growth rate of the lambs
Lawlor, M.J.; Louca, A.; Mavrogenis, A.
Animal production 18(3): 293-299
ISSN/ISBN: 0003-3561 DOI: 10.1017/s0003356100022467
99 ewes, 33 from each of the Cyprus Fat-tailed, Chios and Awassi breeds, were used to compare the effects of 3 suckling regimes on lactation. These consisted of weaning the lambs at birth (W0), or at 2 (W2) or 35 (W35) days of age. The 35-day, 150-day and total milk yields, as well as lactation length, were measured for each group. The lambs weaned from the ewes at birth and 2 days were reared on ewe-milk replacer. The growth rate of these lambs was compared with that of the lambs being suckled by their dams, before and after weaning. In all cases the milk yields of the Chios and Awassi breeds of sheep were higher (P <0.01) than those of the Cyprus Fat-tailed. Within each breed, the 35-day milk yields of the ewes suckling 1 lamb were higher (P <0.01) than those of the ewes on the W0 or W2 treatments, which themselves did not differ significantly. While the 150-day milk yields of the W35 treatment were significantly higher than those of the W0 or W2 treatments, the differences between suckling regimes in terms of total milk yield and lactation length were not significant. It is concluded that differences in milk yield obtained on different suckling regimes are attributable solely to the length of time that the lambs are suckled by their dams.