There is evidence to suggest that lambs on restricted nutrition from birth fail to show compensatory growth. In this indoor trial, lambs were allocated to one of three treatments and fed on lamb milk formula, then sheep pellets. Lambs were started on high (H) or low (L) rates of intake from 3 days of age. Groups of L lambs were subsequently placed on H intakes (low-high; L-H) at 2, 4 and 8 months of age and killed at 4, 8 and 15 months of age respectively. At 15 months H lambs weighed 86.2 kg and L lambs 28.6 kg. The growth rates of L-H ranged between 224 and 242 g/d during compensatory growth. The H lambs averaged 186 and L lambs 50 g/d during the experiment. At slaughter, there was no difference between H and L-H lambs for hot carcass weight when adjusted for final live weight, and little change in the weight and length of M. semitendinosus. Hind limb dissection also demonstrated no effect of nutritional treatment on proportions of muscle, bone and fat in H and L-H lambs. These results suggest that lambs on restricted nutrition from birth retain their potential to grow if provided with improved nutrition.

J, Bass, A Kirton, and J Oldham

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 59, , 111-113, 1999
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