Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
In general, twin Merino lambs tend to have a high mortality rate than single lambs. In addition, research has shown that twins are smaller, produce less wool or slightly greater FD. Lamb mortality is highest in Merinos at low and high birth weights.
No studies to date have looked at whether twin-bearing Merino ewes can produce progeny that have similar productivity to a single-born lamb.
What did the research involve?
This research examined the effects on lamb production when single and twin-bearing Merino ewes were managed differently according to lifetime ewe management principles.
Two ewe flocks were monitored on a South Australian commercial property. The property was in the south-east and experiences hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. During the trial, the area was in drought.
For one flock:
- Managed according to Lifetime wool recommendations
- Body score of 3.0 at mating, and maintain 2.7 to lambing
- Manage twin and singles in different mobs to meet energy requirements
For the second flock:
- Managed as per ewe management practices in the region
What were the key findings?
The trial found that the lifetime ewe flock had a condition score 0.7 greater than the second flock at lambing. In addition:
- Ewe clean fleece weight and fibre diameter was greater
- Lambs had higher survival rates to weaning
- Over three shearings, their progeny produced more clean wool
- No consistent effect on FB, SS or SL.
This research confirms that managing ewes according to lifetime ewe guidelines can increase live weight, survival and wool production in lambs. In addition, more twins survived in this management group.