We tested whether short-term nutritional supplementation (500 g lupin grain per head daily) would affect the response of ewes to the ram effect. Experiment 1 (end of non-breeding sea-son): ewes were supplemented for either Days −6 to −1 relative to ram introduction (n = 24) or for 12 days after ram introduction (Days 11 to 22 of the ram-induced cycle; n = 29). Controls (n = 30) were not supplemented. Across all groups, 94–100% of ewes ovulated. Supplementation before ram introduction did not affect ovulation rate at the ram-induced ovulation but increased it during the ram-induced cycle (Control 1.37; supplemented 1.66; p < 0.05). Experiment 2 (the middle of non-breeding season): the supplement was fed for Days −5 to −1 relative to ram introduction. Again, supplementation did not increase number ovulating (Control 16/29; Supplemented 10/29) but it did increase ovulation rate at the ram-induced ovulation (Control 1.31; Supplemented 1.68; p < 0.05). In neither experiment did supplementation affect the frequency of short cycles. Supplementation before ram introduction did not improve the percentage of ewes ovulating or reduce the frequency of short cycles (so will not improve the synchrony of lambing). However, supplementation after ram introduction can increase prolificacy.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Feb 2022|