Results of analyses of Sheep Improvement Ltd. (SIL) data (27 flocks and 128,203 lambings) showed a substantial impact of ewes being scanned pregnant but failing to rear a lamb (wet-dry), on weight of lamb weaned at the next lambing. Compared to ewes that reared a lamb at the previous lambing, 'wet-dry' ewes had 0.3 to 0.5 less lambs born per ewe lambing, lamb survival rates were lower by 60 to 70 percentage points and weaning weights up to 0.5 kg lighter per lamb weaned. These effects compounded into 30 to 40 kg less weight of lamb weaned per ewe. The failure to rear part of a litter, such as one lamb of a set of twins, had less effect on performance at next lambing and weaning, than loss of the whole litter. Those ewes that previously gave birth to three lambs weaned 4 kg less lamb weight than ewes that previously gave birth to singles, after allowing for their higher genetic drive for prolificacy. A modest but significant effect of previous litter size was observed on weight of lamb weaned within each litter size category. Lamb survival was observed to be 2% lower (P <0.01) for twin ewes that had failed to rear one of their two lambs, compared with those that had reared both in their previous lambing.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 69, Christchurch, 115-117, 2009
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