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The effects of monthly air temperature and rainfall variations on the reproductive performance and lambing distribution of the Jezersko-Solčava sheep

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The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of monthly air temperature and rainfall variations on the reproductive performance and lambing distribution of the Jezersko-Solčava breed in northwestern Croatia during 7 years period from 2010 until 2016. At 11 medium-scale sheep farms, the sheep were kept on a pasture in a semi-intensive environment with access to the stables. The anomalies of rainfall observed on a monthly basis during monitoring were statistically significant. Non-parametric test showed that the percentages of lambing differ among the months during the year (P = 0.0001). By using regression analysis, it was found that the percentages of pregnant sheep were linearly associated with the sequential number of the month. The seasonal distribution of lambings were 53.85% of ewes delivered in winter (n = 1296), 21.13% in spring (n = 509), 8.91% in summer (n = 215) and 16.11% in autumn (n = 387). Sexual activity was lowest during spring and early summer (from March to May) with a peak from the end of July to October. The conception rate during year 2011 was significantly lower (89.74%), and the litter size was the lowest (1.05) than in other years of the observation. Average conception rate was 92.85% and average litter size 1.21. Despite being a seasonally polyoestrous, the distribution of matings and lambings of this breed of sheep was not uniform throughout the seasons. There were established a positive or negative correlations between the air temperature and rainfall precipitation variations with tested reproductive performances of Jezersko-Solčava breed sheep in the Northwestern part of Croatia.

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Correspondence to Marko Samardžija.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

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Đuričić, D., Benić, M., Žura Žaja, I. et al. The effects of monthly air temperature and rainfall variations on the reproductive performance and lambing distribution of the Jezersko-Solčava sheep. Int J Biometeorol 63, 153–158 (2019).

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