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Effect of liveweight and condition score of ewes at mating, and shearing mid-pregnancy, on birthweights and growth rates of twin lambs to weaning



Effect of liveweight and condition score of ewes at mating, and shearing mid-pregnancy, on birthweights and growth rates of twin lambs to weaning



New Zealand Veterinary Journal 52(3): 145-149



To determine the effects of liveweight and condition score of ewes at mating, and shearing mid-pregnancy, on birthweights and growth rates of twin lambs from birth to the time of weaning, and; to determine whether any effect of condition score is independent of liveweight. Romney ewes (n=435) which conceived within a 17-day mating period and successfully gave birth to and reared twin lambs to weaning were used. Ewes were managed during pregnancy so that their total liveweight increased at a level equivalent to the expected growth of the conceptuses. Approximately half of the ewes were shorn 70 days after the mid-point of mating, and the remainder were left unshorn, at which time they had 6-months' wool growth. All lambs were weighed within 12 h of birth and again at weaning. There was a significant linear relationship (R2=0.99) between mean group liveweight and condition score of ewes at mating (difference of 7.3 kg per 1.0 unit condition score). Liveweight of ewes at mating had small but significant (p<0.05) positive effects on both birthweights and growth rates of twin lambs to weaning. Ewes that had condition scores of 3.5-4.0 (scale 0-5) at mating gave birth to significantly (p<0.05) lighter lambs than ewes that had condition scores <3.5. The condition score of ewes at mating was positively associated with growth rates of lambs, although this effect was largely explained by variation in the liveweight of ewes at mating. Twin lambs born to ewes shorn mid-pregnancy were significantly (p<0.05) heavier at birth (by 0.4 kg) and at weaning (p<0.05) than those born to unshorn ewes. The heavier weaning weights of lambs born to ewes shorn mid-pregnancy were due to a heavier birthweights rather than increased growth rate. Liveweight and condition score of ewes at mating had small positive effects on growth rates to weaning of twin lambs. Shearing mid-pregnancy increased birthweights and weaning weights of twin lambs. To achieve high weaning weights of twin lambs, farmers should ensure ewes attain high liveweights and condition scores at mating and shear mid-pregnancy. It is speculated that the effects of liveweight and condition score of ewes at mating on weaning weights of twin lambs would be greater than those observed in the present study under conditions in which nutrition of the dam is below optimum.

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Accession: 004123634

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15768111

DOI: 10.1080/00480169.2004.36419


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