In 2005, ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ Romney ewes were selected, synchronized and artificially inseminated. Half of the ewes in each weight group were fed ad libitumand the other half were restricted to maintenance from days 21-140 of pregnancy, resulting in fourgroups: ‘heavy’-maintenance (HM), ‘heavy’-ad libitum(HA), ‘light’-maintenance (LM) and ‘light’-ad libitum(LA). The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of ewe size and nutrition during pregnancy on growth and onset of puberty in female progeny. Lamb birth weights were recorded. After weaning, the progeny were managed as one flock and weighed monthly. Crayon-harnessed teaser rams were joined with the lambs to investigate the onset of puberty. Maternal nutrition during pregnancy affected live weight of lambs from 22 days of age till weaning (100 days of age) (P<0.05). During the first 22 days of life, the growth rate of lambs born to LM was lower (P<0.05) compared with the other groups (215 ± 8.2, 261 ± 8.0, 250 ± 7.9, 275 ± 7.3 grams/day, for lambs born to LM, LA, HM and HA ewes respectively). From weaning until one year of age lambs born to LM dams were lighter than lambs born to HM dams (P<0.05). No differences in the age of onset of puberty were found among the four groups. Singletons reached puberty earlier than twins (P<0.01). At 13 months of age, no long-term effect of maternal nutrition on the live weight of resulting ewe offspring was found, although dam size had a significant effect on live weight and growth rate. However, neither dam nutrition nor size had any effect on the age of onset of puberty.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 67, Wanaka, 126-129, 2007
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