Post-Weaning Supplementation of April-Born Polypay and White Dorper Lambs Grazing Alfalfa/Orchardgrass Pasture

Lauren N. Wood - University of Kentucky

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

A very detailed trial from a Masters student in the United States. Please note that Lucerne is in the alfalfa family.

What is the problem?

This thesis was submitted in the requirement for a Master of Science degree and the University of Kentucky.

Diets fed to sheep around the world contain 85-90% roughage, which is greater than any other class of livestock. Alfalfa, known as Lucerne in Australia, is one of the highest yield potential and feeding value of all perennial forage legumes. The paper studies the effect of post-weaning supplementation of Polypay and White Dorper lambs grazing alfalfa/orchardgrass pasture.

What did the research involve?

This study aimed to answer three questions:

  • To what extent does supplementation affect forage intake.
  • To what extent does supplementation and/or breed affect weight gain.
  • Does intestinal parasite infestation vary significantly based on supplementation and/or breed?

170 Polypay and 133 White Dorper lambs were allocated to supplemented (2% BW) and unsupplemented groups. Pre-weaning data was collected in April 2012 and 2014. Initial weights were recorded in June 2012 and June 2014 and the start of each grazing season and then at 14-day intervals until September in the same year.

What were the key findings?

The study found that:

  • Polypay lambs weighed more at weaning and the end of the grazing season. They also gained weight faster.
  • Supplemented lambs gained faster and Polypays had a greater response to supplementation. They also have higher egg counts.

Final comment

The research concluded that Spring-born (US) Polyplay and White Dorper lambs grazing this pasture type requires 2% BW Supplementation for maximum postweaning growth.

2016 - United States - Lauren N. Wood - University of Kentucky
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