Dags are a major cost in sheep farming. This paper reports on differences in wool yield and mineral content of faeces associated with dag formation. Of 600 hoggets on a farm in Inland Canterbury, only three had dag scores greater than 0.5 in mid-March (mean dag score 0.030). After 10 weeks (mean dag score 0.4), 80% of the animals recorded a dag score 0.5 or less and 40 animals (6.7%) had dag scores of 2 or greater. In two other trials, wool samples showed no differences in wool grease, suint content or yield associated with differences in dagginess of the animals. Fresh faeces were collected from ewes from the Resistant (R) and Susceptible (S) FEC selection lines at Wallaceville which differ in dag formation. These lines did not differ in faecal dry matter, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium or potassium content. Lambs from these lines differed significantly in faecal potassium (mean = 13.8 mg/kg, R-S = 2.98 mg/kg (P<0.001)) and magnesium (mean = 5.7 g/kg, R-S = -0.82 g/kg (P<0.05)) contents. Faeces from lambs grazing low or high endophyte pasture also differed in potassium (12.8 vs. 15.3 g/kg, SED 1.18) and magnesium (7.6 vs. 6.0 g/kg, SED 0.67) content. These results point to differences in faeces associated with differing dag forming tendencies and may assist in explaining some of the mechanisms involved in dag formation.

D, Cottle, and TC Reid

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 59, , 52-54, 1999
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