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Asian-Australas J Anim Sci > Accepted
doi: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.16.0641    [Accepted]
The potential interaction between ewe body condition score and nutrition during very late pregnancy and lactation on the performance of twin-bearing ewes and their lambs
Lydia Cranston*, Paul Kenyon, Rene Corner-Thomas, Steve Morris
Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand (Aotearoa)
* Corresponding Author: Lydia Cranston ,Tel: 069519106, Fax: 69519106, Email: l.cranston@massey.ac.nz
Received: August 26, 2016;  Revised: December 4, 2016.  Accepted: February 5, 2017.  Published online February 23, 2017.

ABSTRACT
Objective:
The present study aimed to determine the impact of ewe BCS (over a range of 2.0 to 3.0) and nutritional treatments (consisting of differing herbage masses) during very late pregnancy and lactation and their potential interaction on the performance of twin-bearing ewes and their lambs to weaning.
Method:
On day [42 of pregnancy, twin-bearing ewes with a body condition score (BCS) of 2.0, 2.5 or 3.0 were allocated to a “Moderate’ or ‘Unrestricted’ nutritional treatment until day 95 of lactation (weaning). The nutritional treatments aimed to achieve average herbage masses of 1200-1300 kg DM/ha (Moderate) and 1500-1800 kg DM/ha (Unrestricted).
Results:
There were no three-way interactions between ewe BCS group, nutritional treatment and time for any ewe or lamb parameter. The nutritional treatments had no effect (p>0.05) on lamb birth or weaning weight. Lambs born to Moderate ewes had greater survival and total litter weight at weaning (p<0.05). Regardless of BCS group, Unrestricted treatment ewes had greater body condition and back-fat depth at weaning than Moderate treatment ewes (p<0.05). Ewes of BCS 2.0 group reared lighter lambs to weaning (p<0.05) and tended to have a lower total litter weight (p = 0.06) than BCS 3.0 group ewes.
Conclusion:
This study suggests farmers should aim to have all ewes with a BCS of 2.5 or 3 in late pregnancy for optimal lamb weaning performance. Furthermore, there is no benefit to lamb production of offering ewes pasture masses >1200 kgDM/ha during very late pregnancy and lactation.
Keywords: Body condition; Live weight; Growth; Back fat depth
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