Milk production of groups of East Friesian cross ewes lambing at intervals of 73 days (i.e., five times per year: August (n = 21), November (n = 29), January (n = 13), March (n = 14) and June (n = 14)) was measured on alternate days in the first week post partum and at weekly intervals for nine weeks. Ewes with single and twin lambs were enrolled if they safely delivered the appropriate number of lambs indicated by previous scanning. Ewes and lambs were separated in the morning and ewes milked by machine following i.v. oxytocin (1 i.u.) and stripped by hand until empty. Ewes returned to pasture whilst lambs were housed and bottle-fed. At afternoon milking (after a precisely measured interval of about 6 h) milk yields were recorded. From that yield and the time interval, daily milk yields were calculated. Data were analysed using a mixed linear model for repeated measures. Twin-bearing ewes produced significantly more milk than single-bearing ewes (P < 0.001). Lactogenesis differed significantly (P < 0.001) between the lambing groups. Over the whole lactation, milk yield differed significantly (P < 0.001) between different lambing groups. Milk yields were highest following June lambing (2223 ± 35 g/day), followed by November (2107 ± 24 g/d), August (1932 ± 36 g/day), January (1826 ± 31 g/day) and March (1742 ± 30 g/day). A significant lambing group by rearing rank interaction (P < 0.001) indicated that single- and twin-bearing ewes responded differently to seasonal differences; ewes with twins increased milk yield proportionately more than ewes with singles in June, November and January. KEYWORDS: milk yields; sheep; STAR system.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, Christchurch, 173-177, 2005
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