Effects of different stocking intensities in early life on the productivity of merino ewes grazed as adults at 2 stocking rates 1. wool production and quality lamb growth rate and size and live weight of ewes

Langlands, J.P.; Donald, G.E.; Paull, D.R.

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry 24(124): 34-46


Accession: 005300229

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Ewe lambs born to Merino ewes grazed at 10 or 20 sheep/ha were weaned at 3 mo. (L-, H-) and randomized to low or high stocking rate treatments (-L, -H) until 15 mo. old. Ewes from each of the 4 groups (LL, LH, HL and HH) then grazed at 10 or 20 sheep/ha until 9 yr old. Liveweight in early adult life and some body dimensions were reduced by a low plane of nutrition during rearing. The differences in liveweight declined with time and were not significant after 2.5 yr in ewes stocked as adults at 10/ha or after 5.5 yr in ewes stocked at 20/ha. Wool production and growth rates of lambs were reduced when ewes were stocked at the high stocking rate, but were not affected by rearing treatment. Wool production per sheep was about 30% greater at the lower stocking rate but about 33% less when expressed on a unit area basis. Fiber diameter and fleece length were reduced by a high stocking rate in adult life but were not affected by rearing treatment. Yield was not affected by stocking rate at any time. A number of subjective assessments of wool quality were also recorded; quality declined at a high stocking rate but was not affected by rearing treatment. Trends in wool production and quality with age of ewe are reported.