Maintenance diets containing two levels of energy (9.6 v. 11.5 MJME per kg DM) and two levels of protein (10.7 v.21.7 g nitrogen per kg DM) were fed to four groups, each of ten Romney (five low and five high staple tenacity) and four Drysdale yearling rams, for six weeks from mid March. Protein supplementation increased protein intake by 114% (P<0.001). It increased clean wool growth in the treatment period (6.2 v. 10.2 g.um- 2.d-1, P<0.001), more so in Drysdales than Romneys (89 v. 46%; P<0.001). It also increased mean fibre diameter (38.1 v. 34.3 um, P<0.001) without changing the proportion of fibre that was medullated. Responses to the nutrient supplements were similar in low and high staple tenacity Romney rams. It is concluded that during the photoperiod-induced decline in wool growth in autumn, sheep on a maintenance diet responded to the increase in dietary protein with an increase in the volume of fibre and volume of keratin produced with no net change in the proportion of fibre medullated.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 55, , 12-13, 1995
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