Ewe lambs can lift production

The West Australian
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A recent MLA producer demonstration site project has shown that lamb production can be increased by more than 10 per cent by mating 7-10 month old ewes in body condition score 3 or higher.

In addition to body condition score, the project found that liveweight, age at maturity and genetics could all improve conception rates.

It was found that both the weight and condition score of ewe lambs at joining significantly affected the reproductive rate in both merino and crossbred ewe lambs. Analysis of the data indicated that, on average, a 1kg increase in liveweight at joining increased reproductive rate by 3.7 per cent in merino and 2.6 per cent in crossbred ewe lambs.

Analysis also suggests that early maturing ewe lambs achieve higher reproductive performance, while at a given liveweight, an extra condition score at joining increased reproductive rate by 31% in merino and 26% in crossbred ewe lambs.

The project demonstrated that the majority of pregnant ewe lambs were able to lamb down and rear their lambs successfully and that with targeted management these ewes achieved high reproductive rates on their second mating.

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From 2010-2012 trials undertaken on 4 crossbred flocks and 11 merino flocks. These flocks achieved conception rates of 60% in merinos and 75% in crossbred ewe lambs.

Ewe lambs are a under-utilised resource that with improved management practices and genetics could contribute significantly towards increasing weaning rates in the sheep industry and assist in meeting future demand for lamb.

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