Thursday, August 15, 2019

Background Information on 2019 Lambs

Sixty-four lambs were used to compare the growth, carcass, and reproductive characteristics of intact ram (n=21), short-scrotum (SC) ram (n=18), and wether lambs (n=25) . The lambs were single-sourced from the state's only licensed sheep dairy. The breed was East Friesian x Lacaune.

The oldest lamb was born on January 26. The youngest lamb was born on March 22. Upon arrival, the lambs ranged in age from 31 to 86 days and averaged 65.1 ± 17.4 days of age. The median age was 70 days. The median date of birth was February 11. Less than 2 days separated the average age of the rams, SC, and wethers.

As it was a dairy farm, the lambs were weaned at an early age, ~30 days. After weaning, they remained in the barn/dry lot until they were transported to the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center on April 22.

Birth weights ranged from 5.5 to 16.0 lbs. and averaged 11.5 ± 2.2 lbs. Birth weights were similar for ram, SC, and wether lambs. Birth type ranged from 1 to 3 and averaged 1.95 ± 0.55. The  median birth type was 2 (twin). Birth type was similar across treatment groups. Most of the lambs (87.5%)  had the same sire.

The lambs were weighed upon arrival. Starting weights ranged from 28.0 to 71.0 pounds and averaged 44.5 ± 10.6 lbs. The ram lambs were a little heavier than the wether lambs: 45.1
± 10.5 vs. 43.5 ± 10.9 lbs.  The SC were intermediate: 45.1 ± 10.9 lbs. 

Castrations were performed by 10 days of age. Every third lamb was left a ram, castrated, or made a short-scrotum.

Sex No. Start age, d Birth type Birth wt, lbs. Start wt, lbs. Same sire, #
Ram 21 66.4 2.00 11.6 45.1 19
SC 18 63.7 1.79 11.6 44.4 16
Wether 25 64.2 2.00 11.2 43.5 21
All 64 65.1 1.95 11.5 44.5 56

Compared to last year, this year's lambs were younger (11 days) and lighter (11 pounds).

All of these factors will be put into the statistical model to determine if they affected the outcome of the experiment. Last year, they did not.

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