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Type: Journal article
Title: Effect of previous reproductive performance on current reproductive rate in South Australian Merino ewes
Author: Kleemann, D.
Walker, S.
Ponzoni, R.
Gifford, D.
Walkley, J.
Smith, D.
Grimson, R.
Jaensch, K.
Walkom, S.
Brien, F.
Citation: Animal Production Science, 2016; 56(4):716-725
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 1836-0939
1836-5787
Statement of
Responsibility: 
David O. Kleemann, Simon K. Walker, Raul W. Ponzoni, Dennis R. Gifford, James R.W. Walkley, Darryl H. Smith, Richard J. Grimson, Kaylene S. Jaensch, Samuel F. Walkom and Forbes D. Brien
Abstract: Reproductive performance of ewes in the current year may be influenced by their performance in the previous year and by the ability of seasonal and management conditions to facilitate full recovery before the next breeding cycle. This possibility was tested by analysing reproductive data from 2100 South Australian Merino ewes mated to Merino rams annually from 1991 to 1997. The model fitted to the data included the fixed effects of previous reproductive performance (PRP) (no lambs born; single or multiple lambs born, none reared; single lambs born, singles reared; multiples born, singles reared; multiples born, multiples reared), age of ewe (2.5, 3.5, 4.5 years), year (1992–1997), bloodline (A, B, L, X) and all two-way interactions. Current-year parameters were net reproduction rate (NRR, lambs weaned of ewes joined) and its components of fertility (ewes lambing of ewes joined), fecundity (lambs born of ewes lambing) and lamb survival (lambs weaned of lambs born). Other parameters were lamb liveweight at weaning per ewe joined and pre-mating liveweight. In addition, repeatability values were calculated across ages for these parameters. NRRwas higher in the current year for those groups of ewes that reared lambs in the previous year; this was associated with the highly productive multiple-bearing and -rearing groups having a liveweight at the next mating similar compared to that of groups that did not rear lambs. Repeatability values of 0.27 for NRR and 0.40 for fertility suggest there are genetic and permanent environmental components contributing to the differences observed among the PRP groups for NRR, particularly so for fertility. Selecting ewes after their first lambing opportunity on fertility alone at a rate of 90% would give a non-cumulative increase in fertility of 3.4% at subsequent lambing opportunities. Hence, improvements in the current ewe flock for NRR by graziers managing flocks of the South Australian Merino strain are likely to come from (1) identifying and selecting those ewes of high fertility from early records and (2) attending to management factors impacting on fecundity and lamb survival.
Keywords: Fecundity; fertility; lamb survival; reproduction
Rights: Journal compilation © CSIRO 2016
RMID: 0030045250
DOI: 10.1071/AN15114
Appears in Collections:Animal and Veterinary Sciences publications

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