Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Arrival of the Lambs

Sixty-one lambs arrived at the Western Maryland Research & Education Center last Thursday, April 26. The arrival of the lambs ushered in a new era at the research center. For 11 years, from 2006 until 2016, the Western Maryland Pasture Based Meat Goat Performance Test was conducted at the research center. The test ended in 2016 for many reasons. 2018 marks the beginning of a new sheep research program.

Arrival day - April 26, 2018
The sixty-one lambs are dairy lambs, mostly East Friesian, with some Lacaune mixed in. They were born from the end of January through February. The lambs are all male. Nineteen are intact rams. Twenty-five are wethers. Seventeen are short-scrotum rams or cryptorchids.

A short-scrotum ram is one whose testicles were pushed up inside the body cavity before banding. Because short-scrotum rams retain their testicles, they should still possess the growth characteristics of intact males. Because their testicles are the same temperature as their body temperature (not several degrees cooler), they should lack the fertility of intact males.

A first taste of grass
The purpose of this year's research project is to compare the growth, carcass characteristics, and fertility traits of ram, wether, and short-scrotum rams. The lambs will be weighed bi-weekly. Towards the end of the project, they will be scanned to determine their back fat and loin muscle depth. It is proposed that five lambs from each group be harvested to collect actual carcass data.

Towards the end of the project, the lambs will be evaluated for libido. Semen will be collected from those lambs that successfully mount ewes. Blood will be drawn to evaluate testosterone levels. The testes from the slaughtered lambs will be evaluated.

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Katahdin Day in Western Maryland