Environmental factors that influence milk production of Pantaneiro ewes and the weight gain of their lambs during the pre-weaning period
The main objective of this research was to conduct an exploratory study of the lactation curve in order to characterize the productive potential of Pantaneiro ewes and lambs. Fifty ewes were bred using four rams in two different mating seasons. The ewes were kept with their lambs on pasture of Brachiaria brizantha. Ewe body score, ewe weight, and lamb weight were evaluated. Milk sampling was performed every week. In the morning for milk collections, the ewes were treated with 1 UI of oxytocin (intramuscular) for complete milking. Lambs were separated from the ewes for 4 h and milk collections were performed. The total milk production over 24 h was estimated by multiplying the production of this period (4 h) by 6. The data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure (P < 0.05) in SAS. Milk production data were fitted to the curve using the incomplete gamma function of Wood, and lamb growth data were fitted using the Gompertiz equation. The average milk production of the ewes was 1.03 kg/day−1. Younger ewes had the lowest milk production (18 = 798 ± 330, 24 = 1001 ± 440, 36 = 1100 ± 490, and 48 = 1106 ± 490 g/day−1). Ewe body score at lambing affected initial milk production (1.0 = 816 ± 660, 1.5 = 1089 ± 105, and 2.0 = 1424 ± 1600 g/day−1). Lambs were weaned with an average weight of 20.3 kg. Daily weight gain from birth to weaning was 181 g. Locally adapted Pantaneiro ewes showed a linear decreasing lactation curve, with reduced production from the second week of lactation. Overall, evaluation of the dairy production and lamb performance revealed great variation, denoting potential for selection.
KeywordsAdapted sheep Dairy potential Performance
The authors would like to thank the Brazilian funding institutes CAPES, CNPq, and FUNDECT.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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