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Effect of level of food intake at mating on the reproductive performance of ewes passively immunized against testosterone



Effect of level of food intake at mating on the reproductive performance of ewes passively immunized against testosterone



Animal Production 45(1): 81-86



In a 2 .times. 2 .times. 2 experiment, 296 Scottish Blackface ewes were fed to achieve one of the levels of body condition (high: condition scores .gtoreq. 2.75; low: condition scores .ltoreq. 2.50) by 2 weeks before joining with rams. Half of the ewes of each condition score were fed dried grass pellets ad libitum and 300 g hay per head daily, between 2 weeks before and 8 days after joining, while the remaining ewes were offered a live-weight maintenance ration comprising 750 g pellets and 400 g had per head daily. From 8 days after joining the intake of all ewes was gradually changed, over a 2-week period, to 1250 g pellets and 400 g hay per head daily. Two days before joining, half of the ewes of each condition/intake group were passively immunized against testosterone. A total of 99 ewes were slaughtered 18 days after joining and their ovulation rate at the first mating determined. Ovulation rates were significantly affected by immunization (immunized: 2.31, control: 1.86, pooled s.e. = 0.055; P < 0.01) and food intake (ad libitum: 2.24, maintenance: 1.92, pooled s.e. = 0.055; P < 0.05) but not by body condition at mating (high: 2.15, low: 2.02, pooled s.e. = 0.059; P > 0.05). Lambing rates were dependent on treatment (immunized: 1.82 control: 1.62, pooled s.e. = 0.044; P < 0.01), food intake (ad libitum: 1.85, maintenance: 1.59, pooled s.e. = 0.043; P < 0.01) and body condition (high: 1.82, low: 1.62, pooled s.e. = 0.044; P < 0.01). In ewes in a high body condition at mating, the effects of intake and immunization were additive but in ewes in low condition, immunization induced little improvement in performance in ewes fed ad libitum. Circulating antibody titres were lower in ewes fed ad libitum than in ewes offered a maintenance ration (1:416 v. 1:534, pooled s.e. = 14; P < 0.01), but ovulation rates and litter sizes were not related to titres.

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Accession: 001574373

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DOI: 10.1017/s0003356100036655


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