Short-term nutritional treatments grazing legumes or feeding concentrates increase prolificacy in Corriedale ewes

Carolina Vinoles, Graeme Martin, [No Value] Meikle. A.

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    We tested whether short periods of increased nutrition will improve ovulation rate and prolificacy, irrespective of the method used to synchronise the cycles of the ewes. In Experiment 1, we used 138 Corriedale ewes to evaluate two factors: synchronization treatment (sponges versus a single injection of prostaglandin) and type of pasture (native versus improved with Lotus corniculatus). Ewes were mated at the end of the grazing period and prolificacy was evaluated at lambing. Grazing Lotus corniculatus for 12 days tended to increase the number of twin lambs born (P = 0.09). The percentage of ewes showing oestrus during a 9-day period was similar among synchronization treatments. Animals in Experiments 2 (n = 282) and 3 (n = 288) were allocated to a control group or a group fed a supplement of corn grain and soybean meal for 7 days. Ewes received 2 prostaglandin injections and the supplement was fed from Days 11 to 17 after the second prostaglandin. Ovulation rate was measured in 65 (Experiment 2) and 61 (Experiment 3) ewes that were confirmed to have consumed the supplement and showed oestrus in a 4-day period. The supplement increased ovulation rate by 14% in both experiments (P <0.05). We conclude that Corriedale ewes can respond with increases in prolificacy to a 12-day period grazing Lotus corniculatus and in ovulation rate to 7 days feeding with a supplement rich in energy and protein. Moreover, in these studies, prostaglandin was as effective as sponges for synchronising oestrus, an important factor in future decisions about hormonal management of fertility.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)82-92
    JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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