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The effect of individual liveweight and condition scores of ewes at mating on reproductive and scanning performance



The effect of individual liveweight and condition scores of ewes at mating on reproductive and scanning performance



New Zealand Veterinary Journal 52(5): 230-235



To determine the effects of liveweight (LW) and condition score (CS) of ewes at mating on both mating performance and scanning percentage, and to determine if effects of CS were independent of LW. Two groups of ewes, comprising 1,780 mixed-aged Romney (Rom MA) and 692 composite two-tooth (1/8 East Friesian 1/16 Finn 13/16 Romney, Comp TT) ewes were grazed separately with harnessed rams for two reproductive cycles. Romney rams were used for the first 17 days of mating and then replaced on the morning of Day 18 by Suffolk rams. Ewes were weighed and CS assessed on a scale of 0-5 before the introduction of the rams. Ewes were identified as having been mated during the first cycle only, during both cycles, during the second cycle only, or not mated. All mated ewes were scanned using ultrasound, 50 days after the end of mating, and identified as being either non pregnant, single-, twin- or triplet-bearing. Linear relationships (R2=0.99) between mean LW and CS at mating were evident for both Rom MA and Comp TT ewes and the mean increase in LW per unit increase in CS was greater in the Rom MA ewes (7.88 kg) than the Comp TT (4.78 kg) ewes (p<0.05). Ewes mated in the second cycle only were significantly (p<0.05) lighter than those mated in the first cycle only. In Rom MA ewes, a greater proportion were mated in the first cycle only if CS was >/=2.0 than if CS was <2.0, and the proportions of ewes mated in the first cycle only or in both cycles did not differ if CS was >/=2.5. In Comp TT ewes, there was no difference in the proportions mated in the first cycle or both cycles, if CS was >/=2.0. Triplet-bearing ewes were heavier than twin-bearing ewes, which were in turn heavier than both singleton-bearing and non pregnant ewes. Twin-bearing ewes had higher CS than both single-bearing and non pregnant ewes (p<0.05) but differences were not significant if LW was included as a covariate. In both Rom MA and Comp TT ewes, greater proportions were non pregnant and lower proportions had twins if CS was <2.0 than if CS was >/=2.0. In Rom MA ewes only, a greater proportion again had twins and a lower proportion had singletons if CS was >/=3.0 than if CS was <3.0. In Comp TT ewes, the proportion that were non pregnant or twin-bearing did not vary with CS if CS was >/=2.0. Reproductive performance was maximal for Rom MA and Comp TT ewes that had CS at mating >/=3.0 and >/=2.0, respectively, equating to LW of 62.6 and 48.5 kg, respectively. In both groups of ewes, CS and LW at mating positively affected reproductive performance measured at the time of mating and at scanning, however, no reproductive advantage was evident above a minimum CS of 3.0 and 2.0, equating to LW of 62.6 and 48.5 kg, for Rom MA and Comp TT ewes, respectively. Sheep farmers should direct management to ensure that no ewes are below these minimum targets rather than ensuring high average LW and/or CS of a mob.

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Accession: 004350005

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15768117

DOI: 10.1080/00480169.2004.36433


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