The effect of sire breed on colostrum production of crossbred ewes

An evaluation of colostrum production by crossbred ewes born to either a milk-type or meat-type ram, and the implications for the survival of the newborn lamb.

Year of Publication2004

Eight Charollais×Cambridge ewes (meat type), eight Charollais×Lleyn Ewes (meat type) and 14 Friesland×Lleyn ewes (milk type) were used to compare colostrum production of meat- and milk-type ewes. All ewes were carrying triplet lambs. Ewes were group housed at 38 days pre-lambing. Concentrates were fed to provide a rising plane of nutrition, and hay was fed ad libitum. At 2 days pre-partum, ewes were individually penned. Colostrum yields and composition were measured at 1 and 12–16 h post-partum. A predicted 24-h colostrum yield was also calculated. Colostrum yield at 1 h was widely variable, resulting in no significant difference between the milk-type and the meat-type ewes (1241.6 vs. 773.9 ml, s.e.d. 248.07). However, milk-type ewes produced more colostrum than meat-type ewes at 12–16 h (60.9 vs. 27.7 ml/h, s.e.d. 11.75, P<0.01) and in total over 24 h (2641.8 vs. 1412.0 ml, s.e.d. 447.00, P<0.05). Meat-type ewes produced colostrum containing a higher proportion of IgG than milk-type ewes at 1 h (91.6 vs. 64.5 mg/ml, s.e.d. 11.47, P<0.05) and at 12–16 h post-partum (27.3 vs. 17.8 mg/ml, s.e.d. 4.62, P<0.05). Yields of IgG were similar for both ewe types, but meat-type ewes produced lower yields of fat. A similar proportion of meat-type and milk-type ewes failed to meet the IgG requirements of their triplet litters. However, a greater proportion of meat-type ewes (0.64) did not meet the energy requirements of their lambs compared with the milk-type ewes (0.21, χ2=5.25, P<0.05). Lambs born to meat-type ewes may be more at risk from hypothermia than lambs born to milk-type ewes, while at the same time having a similar level of protection against infectious diseases.


Pattinson, S E 0000-0002-3886-6876; Thomas, E W (2004) "The effect of sire breed on colostrum production of crossbred ewes"Livestock Production Science 86 (1-3) pp 47-53

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animal nutrition
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