Managing lambs birth weight

SheepNet Solution Romania

Country: Romania

Dairy or/and meat sheep: Dairy and Meat

Source of information: Knowledge, Industry

Level of solution: Knowledge/Practical 

Aim: Increase lamb survival through evaluation and monitoring of lamb birth weight

Description:

  • Lambs birth weight influences significantly the survival rates and it is moderately heritable (0.35-0.40), as a result could be used as a selection trait. 
  • Birth weight of lambs is decidedly influenced by ewe nutrition during pregnancy and breed related factors.
  • The optimum birth weight depends on the adult weight of that breeds, with a threshold for birth weight of 3.5-4 kg/lamb.
  • Large lambs are problematic, and might cause difficult lambing’s and dystocia. This is frequently when crossing large size meat breeds with smaller sized breeds.
  • Lambs born with low body weights should not be kept for reproduction, and their dams should be considered for culling.
  • Lambs born as twins and triplets have usually with 20-40% lower body weights, compared to those born as singletons.
  • Farmers should register birth weights for 20-30% of the lambs born, in order to assess their late gestation feeding management and take decisions for the following year.

Expected benefits: Reduction in lamb losses caused by low birth weights.

Prerequisites and/or limits (knowledge, training, capabilities, cost, management, facilities, equipment, etc.)

  • Lamb birth weight could be used as a selection trait within the farm, given the moderately to high heritability and ease of assessment by farmer.

References:

Fraga et al., 2018; McCoard et al., 2017; Everett-Hincks et al., 2014

 

Tips & Tricks:

Ewe nutrition for optimum lamb birth weight

Expected impacts:

Benefit
Benefit expected Increase productivity
less mortality
System
Is the solution suitable for various production systems Y
If no - for which system dairy & meat
Cost
What are the asset costs <100/lamb
What are the maintenance costs <50/lamb
Any limits to its applicability No
Work Load
  Farmers Service provider/tech.-vet-others
How much time is required to prepare and implement the solution >=1week  
How many people is needed to implement the solution? 1 person (the farmer)  
Timing
How long it takes to get results? >=1week
How long it takes to see  an effect on sheep productivity? current production period
Equipment/Facility
  Farmers Service provider/technicians-vet-others
What kind of equipment/tool are necessary? Weighing scales for lambs  
Skill/Knowledge-Training (farmer)
Does the solution need any specific skill/knowledge or training? Yes
How much time will be required for training 1 day training
Wider Environment
Is there any particular regulation link to the solution? NO
Does the solution need any particular structure or organisation? NO

 

 

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