The relationship of lamb growth from birth to weaning and the milk production of their primiparous crossbred dams

J.E. Morgan, N.M Fogarty, S. Nielsen, A.R. Gilmour

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    23 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The growth rate of 667 single cross lambs from birth to 4 weeks (Period 1) and 4 weeks to weaning at 12 weeks (Period 2) was measured, along with the milk production of their 520 primiparous crossbred ewe dams over 3 years. The lambs were the progeny of Poll Dorset rams and first cross ewes lambing for the first time at 12 and 19 months of age. The first cross ewes were the progeny of Merino ewes mated to 30 individual sires from several maternal sire breeds, including Border Leicester, East Friesian, Finnsheep and Coopworth. Milk production of the ewes was measured at ~3, 4 and 12 weeks of lactation using a 4-h milk test. The effect of ewe milk production on lamb growth rate in Period 1 included a significant interaction with lamb birth and rearing type (P < 0.001). These regressions were 52 ± 18 g/day per kg/day for single born and reared, 24 ± 17 g/day per kg/day for multiple born and single reared and 18 ± 17 g/day per kg/day multiple born and reared lambs. The regression of ewe milk production in Period 2 on lamb growth rate in Period 2 was also significant (P < 0.001), although milk production in Period 1 accounted for more variation in lamb growth. There were significant interactions of ewe weight gain (from mid pregnancy to lamb weaning) with season in Period 1 (P < 0.01) and year in Period 2 (P < 0.001). There was also a significant interaction (P < 0.001) of year with ewe mid-pregnancy weight for lamb growth in Period 2. Lamb birthweight had a significant effect on lamb growth rate in Period 2 (regression coefficient 6.68 ± 2.57 g/day.kg, P < 0.01).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)899-904
    Number of pages6
    JournalAnimal Production Science
    Volume47
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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