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The effect of progesterone supplementation post mating and shearing of ewes in early pregnancy on the reproductive performance of ewes and birthweight of lambs



The effect of progesterone supplementation post mating and shearing of ewes in early pregnancy on the reproductive performance of ewes and birthweight of lambs



New Zealand Veterinary Journal 53(5): 321-325



To determine whether short-term progesterone supplementation post mating or shearing of ewes in early pregnancy affected either the proportion of ewes that lambed or that had multiple lambs, or the birthweight of lambs. Romney ewes (n=457) were synchronised in oestrus using controlled internal drug-releasing (CIDR) devices containing progesterone, and mated to Romney rams over a 5-day period. The mid-point of mating (Day 0) occurred 2 days after the withdrawal of CIDR devices. Ewes mated (n=397) were randomly allocated to one of four treatment groups: shearing at Day 5, shearing at Day 30, no shearing, and no shearing plus progesterone supplementation using a CIDR device inserted on Day 3 for 6 days. During the period from Day 5 to Day 27, six harnessed Suffolk rams were placed with the ewes and matings recorded. At Day 48, all ewes that did not return to the Suffolk rams were scanned for pregnancy using ultrasound. At Day 140, single- and multiple-bearing ewes were set-stocked at 15.1 and 12.2 ewes/ha, respectively, and equivalent numbers of ewes from each treatment group were placed in each paddock. Blood samples from 10 unshorn and 10 progesterone-supplemented ewes were collected on Days 3, 6 and 9, and analysed for plasma progesterone concentrations. Lambs were identified to their dam and weighed within 12 h of birth, and again at 27 and 93 days after the mid-point of lambing. The ewes were weighed at regular intervals throughout the trial. Plasma progesterone concentrations of supplemented ewes were higher than those of unsupplemented ewes (3.28 vs 1.75 ng/ml) on Day 6 (p=0.02) but not on Day 9 (4.58 vs 4.63 ng/ml). Treatment of ewes had no effect on either the proportion of ewes which lambed to the synchronised mating period or that had multiple lambs. Lambs born to ewes shorn at Day 30 tended (p=0.09) to be heavier at birth (by 0.28 kg) than those born to unshorn ewes but this effect was not evident when data were corrected for length of gestation. Neither shearing at Day 5 nor progesterone supplementation had any effect on the birthweight of lambs, and the treatment of ewes had no effect on the survival rate of lambs to weaning. Progesterone supplementation for 6 days beginning 3 days post mating did not increase either the proportion of ewes that lambed or that had multiple lambs, or the birthweight of lambs. Shearing 5 days after mating had no significant effect on the reproductive performance of ewes and need not be avoided, but is unlikely to result in an increase in lamb birthweight. Shearing ewes at Day 30 may result in an increase in the birthweight of lambs but, ideally, ewes should be further advanced in pregnancy before shearing is undertaken.

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Accession: 004350558

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 16220124

DOI: 10.1080/00480169.2005.36567


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