The effect of weight at mating and of nutrition during mid pregnancy on the birth weight of lambs from primi parous ewes
Russel, A.J.F.; Foot, J.Z.; White, I.R.; Davies, G.J.
Journal of Agricultural Science 97(3): 723-730
ISSN/ISBN: 0021-8596 Accession: 006659128
Scottish Blackface ewes (48, .apprx. 18 mo. old) were used to study the effects of 2 levels of nutrition during mid-pregnancy (30-98 days of gestation) on the birth weight of lambs from ewes varying in weight, size and condition at 1st mating. The mean live weight (42.4 kg), size index (31.9) and condition score (2.4) at mating of the 26 ewes from flock A were all less than those of the 22 ewes from flock B (54.5, 39.4 and 2.9, respectively). Mean intakes of the low and high nutritional treatment ewes during mid-pregnancy were 10.6 and 22.0 g/kg per day, respectively, of a pelleted diet supplying 8.81 MJ metabolizable energy and 125.5 g crude protein/kg. These intakes produced estimated changes in net maternal weight of .apprx. 5 and 0 kg, respectively. Mean lamb birth weights from ewes on the low and high nutritional treatments were: flock A, 3.32 and 3.83 kg; flock B, 4.96 and 4.23 kg, respectively. Analyses showed intake during mid-pregnancy to have a positive effect on lamb birth weight in the flock A ewes and a negative effect in flock B ewes. Mating weight accounted for 78% of the variance in birth weight in the low nutritional treatment ewes but had little effect in those on the higher level of feeding. The practical implications of the results are discussed in relation to levels of juvenile nutrition.