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Title: Effect of previous reproductive performance on current reproductive rate in South Australian Merino ewes
Contributor(s): Kleemann, David O. (author); Walker, Simon K. (author); Ponzoni, Raul W. (author); Gifford, Dennis R. (author); Walkley, James R. W. (author); Smith, Darryl H. (author); Grimson, Richard J. (author); Jaensch, Kaylene S. (author); Walkom, Samuel  (author)orcid ; Brien, Forbes D. (author)
Publication Date: 2016
DOI: 10.1071/an15114
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Abstract: Reproductive performance of ewes in the current year may be influenced by their performance in the previous year and by the ability of seasonal and management conditions to facilitate full recovery before the next breeding cycle. This possibility was tested by analysing reproductive data from 2100 South Australian Merino ewes mated to Merino rams annually from 1991 to 1997. The model fitted to the data included the fixed effects of previous reproductive performance (PRP) (no lambs born; single or multiple lambs born, none reared; single lambs born, singles reared; multiples born, singles reared; multiples born, multiples reared), age of ewe (2.5, 3.5, 4.5 years), year (1992-1997), bloodline (A, B, L, X) and all two-way interactions. Current-year parameters were net reproduction rate (NRR, lambs weaned of ewes joined) and its components of fertility (ewes lambing of ewes joined), fecundity (lambs born of ewes lambing) and lamb survival (lambs weaned of lambs born). Other parameters were lamb liveweight at weaning per ewe joined and pre-mating liveweight. In addition, repeatability values were calculated across ages for these parameters. NRR was higher in the current year for those groups of ewes that reared lambs in the previous year; this was associated with the highly productive multiple-bearing and -rearing groups having a liveweight at the next mating similar compared to that of groups that did not rear lambs. Repeatability values of 0.27 for NRR and 0.40 for fertility suggest there are genetic and permanent environmental components contributing to the differences observed among the PRP groups for NRR, particularly so for fertility. Selecting ewes after their first lambing opportunity on fertility alone at a rate of 90% would give a non-cumulative increase in fertility of 3.4% at subsequent lambing opportunities. Hence, improvements in the current ewe flock for NRR by graziers managing flocks of the South Australian Merino strain are likely to come from (1) identifying and selecting those ewes of high fertility from early records and (2) attending to management factors impacting on fecundity and lamb survival.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Animal Production Science, 56(4), p. 716-725
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 1836-5787
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 070206 Animal Reproduction
070201 Animal Breeding
070203 Animal Management
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 300305 Animal reproduction and breeding
300302 Animal management
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 830310 Sheep - Meat
830311 Sheep - Wool
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 100412 Sheep for meat
100413 Sheep for wool
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU)
Journal Article

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