Production of two-year-old ewes
Colman, Kenneth L.
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of the investigation of these data was to explore the possibilities of relationships existing between the body weights of the ewes during their early life and their subsequent lamb and wool production as two-year-olds. The effects of environmental influences, such as type of birth and age at weaning, on the growth of ewe lambs and their production as two-year-olds were studied. The growth of two-hundred and fifty-nine ewes was measured by body weights taken at irregular intervals from birth to twenty-three months of age. Records of the individual lamb and wool production of these ewes were tabulated with the body weights. Results showed that the effect of type of birth and age at weaning, on body weights of ewe lambs was reduced as the lambs progressed toward maturity from weanling age. It was also found that the birth weights, weaning weights, and fall yearling weights of the ewes were significantly related. The fall yearling weight of the ewes was most indicative of two-year-old lamb and wool production. A significant relationship was found between the birth weights of the Rambouillet ewes and the pounds of lamb born per ewe as two-year-olds. The relationship between the birth weights of the Targhee ewes and the pounds of lamb born per ewe was not significant nor was this relationship significant for the birth weights of the Columbia ewes and the pounds of lamb born per ewe. The early single-born lambs were consistently lighter at birth than the late single-born lambs; however, at weaning time, the early single-born lambs were consistently heavier than the late single-born lambs. The average daily gain of the early single-born lambs and the late single-born lambs was about the same. The weaning weights of the ewes and their yearling fleece weights were significantly and positively related. The difference between the yearling fleece weights of the ewes and their two-year-old fleece weights was significant, the yearling fleece weights being the heaviest. It is evident from this study that valuable genetic breeding stock may be lost if suitable precautions are not taken to adjust for environmental conditions affecting the size of ewe lambs at weaning time when most replacements are selected. According to these data and that published previously by other workers, a sounder method of selecting higher producing replacements is to retain a larger number of ewe lambs at weaning and to make final selections at fall yearling age. Since production factors are closely related to body weight at fall yearling age, the heavier ewes of similar breeding will be better producers than the lighter ewes if selections are made at this age.