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|Title:||Fertility in South Australian commercial Merino flocks: sources of reproductive wastage|
|Citation:||Theriogenology, 2005; 63(8):2075-2088|
|Publisher:||Elsevier Science Inc|
|Abstract:||To identify reasons for low fertility in the Merino in South Australia, we defined the extent and sources of reproductive wastage in flocks of maiden (n=14) and mature age (n=54) Merino ewes managed on 43 properties over 4 year. In a second study, reproductive wastage was examined in a very high ovulating flock of mature age South Australian Merino ewes heterozygous for the FecB gene, mated to lamb in either the autumn or spring. Losses in the latter flock were examined in less detail than the large-scale study, but allowed wastage to be partitioned between pre- and peri/post-natal sources. In the first experiment, reproductive wastage between mating and weaning was estimated at 59.7 potential lambs or ova lost per 100 ewes exposed to rams, representing 42.4% of ova shed. The main source of wastage occurred at lambing (55.6% of total loss), with death of twins a major contributor (35.3% of total loss). Other important sources of wastage were from partial failure of multiple ovulation (PFMO; 20.4% of total loss) and from ewes mating but not lambing (13.2% of total loss). Reproductive wastage did not vary with either age of ewe (maiden versus mature) or season of mating (October-December versus January-March). Mean ovulation rate, estimated as 141 per 100 ewes ovulating (range 100-200), varied with age of ewe (129 versus 144; maiden versus mature) but not with season of mating or year (1990-1991). Values for fertility, fecundity and lamb survival were 90, 127 and 73%, respectively. Fecundity of maiden ewes was lower than that of mature ewes (116 versus 130). Survival of single and twin lambs between birth and tail docking was 83 and 56%, respectively. Net reproductive efficiency, or lambs weaned per 100 ewes exposed to rams, averaged 81 (range 31-122). In the second experiment, mean ovulation rate of FecB Merino ewes was 316 per 100 ewes ovulating, with 242 ova (potential lambs) lost between ovulation and tail docking. This loss was equally shared between pre- and peri/post-natal sources (123 versus 119), and demonstrates severe limitation of the Merino to successfully bear and rear multiple litters. We concluded that future research in commercial Merino flocks be focused on lamb mortality, particularly of twins, and on PFMO, the major source of embryo loss.|
|Keywords:||Ovum; Animals; Sheep; Fetal Death; Pregnancy Outcome; Breeding; Seasons; Weaning; Aging; Reproduction; Fertility; Ovulation; Pregnancy; Twins; Australia; Female; Male|
|Appears in Collections:||Obstetrics and Gynaecology publications|
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