Maximising lamb growth rate - just what is possible in a high performance system


  • P.D. Muir
  • N.B. Smith
  • J.C. Lane



Abstract This study set out to demonstrate what could be achieved in terms of lamb growth rates under controlled experimental conditions. Ewes with high breeding values for progeny growth rate were selected from within a flock of 900 ewes and mated using AI to a ram with a high breeding value for progeny growth rate. Of the 70 ewes mated, 44 reared 75 lambs (170%) to 12 weeks of age. Lamb birth weights averaged 4.8 kg. Ewes and lambs were fed on pasture covers between 1800 and 2600 kg DM/ha throughout lactation. At 12 weeks of age, the average weight of all lambs in the mob averaged 39 kg. Average growth rate of all lambs from birth to 12 weeks was 409 g/d, with single, twin and triplet lambs averaging 437, 407 and 380 g/d respectively. The best individual lamb grew at 549 g/d and weighed 51.6 kg at 12 weeks. This demonstration sets a new benchmark for both mob and individual lamb growth rates and indicates what can be achieved with a combination of genetics for growth, ewes with good milking ability and good pasture feeding conditions. Keywords: breeding value, lamb growth rate, milking ability, pasture quality




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