Approaches to Enhancing Lambing Rate from Out of Season Breeding

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Marlon Knights, PhD
Associate Professor, Reproductive Physiology
Division Animal and Nutritional Sciences
Davis College of Agriculture Natural Resource and Design
West Virginia University

Dr. Jay Parsons, Department of Agricultural Economics
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

In temperate regions, the seasonal nature of reproduction in sheep limits the frequency of lambing to once per year which in turn can result in significant variation in the price, quality and quantity of lamb in the market as well as the lifetime productivity of the ewe. Overcoming seasonality by getting a proportion of your ewes to breed “out-of-season” will not only increase the average number of lambs weaned per ewe per year but can positively impact marketing of lambs. Approaches to improve the fertility of ewes bred out-of-season will include selecting the right breeds and animals within breeds, photoperiod manipulation, melatonin treatment and the introduction of novel males (“male-effect”) in combination with or without progesterone (CIDR) pre-treatment. Other management practices that foster improved fertility in out-of-season bred ewes include weaning lambs and improving the nutritional status of ewes prior to breeding, isolating ewes from rams prior to the breeding season, and, the use of fertile rams with high sexual activity at a high ram to ewe ratio. Implementing practices to manage seasonal reproduction requires a small investment and some change in management practices. However, lambing rates that are equal to or greater than the current national average can be achieved from out-of-season breeding. Lambs derived from ewes bred out-of-season fetch higher prices and will provide consistency in the quality and quantity of lamb in the market place.

This webinar is made possible with funding support from the Let’s Grow Committee of the American Sheep Industry Association.

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