Mating conditions and management practices influence pregnancy scanning outcomes differently between ewe breeds

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Abstract

Sheep production in southern Australia may vary by breed, time of year, production output (wool, meat, or both), region and seasonal influence. Sheep producers with flocks of approximately 300–500 ewes (n = 58) were recruited across southern Australia to take part in a survey and mating variables were collected from over 30,000 ewes between October 2020 and August 2021. A Bayesian Network (BN) was developed to identify the interrelatedness and most influential variable on pregnancy and fetal number (of pregnant ewes) outcomes under different scenarios. The BN analysis indicated a low association between the variables explored, however, were breed dependent. In wool-based breeds a mating liveweight of 60–69.5 kg predicted the lowest non-pregnant and greatest number of fetuses, and in shedding ewes 70–79.5 kg predicted the lowest non-pregnant rate and 90–99.5 kg the greatest number of fetuses. Pregnancy rate and fetuses per ewe were optimized at ram percentages of 1.5% for Composite and Merino ewes and 2% for Maternal ewes. A mating BCS 4 resulted in greatest pregnancy rate and number of fetuses across all breeds. Curvilinear relationships between mating liveweight, BCS and ram percentage were observed with pregnancy rate and fetal number. Practically, reproductive potential is best managed on a breed basis and with consideration of all variables explored.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2908
Number of pages17
JournalAnimals
Volume12
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2022

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