Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
Breeding ewe lambs is a management tool that can be used to increase farm proﬁtability and lifetime ewe performance. However, there are potential negative impacts on the live weight of progeny at weaning and the live weight of the ewe lamb in the following season.
The aim of this 2-year study was to examine the impact of offering ewe lambs either a traditional ryegrass or white clover pasture (Pasture), Herb-mix or Lucerne throughout the lambing period and in lactation
What did the research involve?
The study compared, over 2 years, the performance of ewe lambs and their progeny after grazing on a ryegrass and white clover pasture, an herb mix or lucerne during lambing and lactation.
The study involved:
- Romney ewe lambs (average age of breeding at 8-9 months)
- Took place at Massey University in the North Island of New Zealand – classified as summer dry.
- The number of ewe lambs per hectare was 10, 16 and 16 for
the Pasture, Herb-mix and Lucerne treatments, respectively.
- Ewe lamb liveweights and body condition scores were recorded at P137, L32 and L63.
- During the lambing
period, lambs were identified to their dam, ear-tagged and
weighed within 12 h of birth. Lambs were reweighed at L32
What were the key findings?
- During lactation in both years of the study, ewe lambs offered the Herb-mix or Lucerne treatments were heavier than those offered Pasture.
- In addition, progeny of ewe lambs offered the Herb-mix or Lucerne treatment were also heavier in lactation than those born onto ryegrass white clover.
- Interestingly, in one of the 2 years, the ewes and their progeny on the Lucerne treatment were heavier in lactation than those in the Herb-mix treatment.
Combined, these results indicated that offering either Herb-mix or Lucerne increases the performance of the young dam and her progeny above that found on a ryegrass and white clover sward.
The results of these two studies indicated that offering ewe lambs either lucerne or herb mix containing chicory, plantain and red and white clover are effective for increasing the live weight of both the ewe lamb and her progeny during lactation, in comparison to a ryegrass and white clover mix.