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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Intake, Growth, and Blood Characteristics in Pen-Fed Lambs of Three Hair Sheep Breeds

Authors
item Turner, Kenneth
item Wildeus, S - VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY
item Collins, J - VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2003
Publication Date: April 27, 2003
Citation: TURNER, K.E., WILDEUS, S., COLLINS, J.R. INTAKE, GROWTH, AND BLOOD CHARACTERISTICS IN PEN-FED LAMBS OF THREE HAIR SHEEP BREEDS. AMERICAN FORAGE AND GRASSLAND COUNCIL PROCEEDINGS. 2003. v. 12. p. 359-363.

Interpretive Summary: Hair sheep breeds adapt to a variety of climates, resist parasites, breed out of season, are prolific, utilize low quality forages well and do not require shearing. These animal fit well into small farm production systems of the eastern United States. Evaluation of performance efficiency and information on forage-based finishing diets for hair sheep production is needed for a fast growing niche market potential for farmers. Our research evaluated intake, growth, and blood parameters when three hair breeds (Barbados Blackbelly, Katahdin, St. Croix) of sheep that were maintained on high forage diets with limited concentrate supplement. Total dry matter intake expressed as percent of BW decreased with time from 3.6% to 3.1%. Hair sheep lambs achieved moderate rates of gain on alfalfa hay with corn supplementation. Katahdin and St. Croix lambs had a higher average daily gain than Barbados Blackbelly lambs. St. Croix and Barbados Blackbelly lambs had higher blood urea nitrogen concentrations than Katahdin suggesting that Katahdin lambs were more efficient at utilizing dietary protein with the amount of corn that was offered. Information is useful to animal scientists trying to develop finishing systems for hair sheep. It will benefit producers on small farms by helping to define the breed of hair sheep to use forage-based finishing systems with limited grain supplementation.

Technical Abstract: A pen feeding study was conducted to evaluate post-weaning intake, weight gain, and selected blood parameters in three hair sheep breeds [(Barbados Blackbelly (BB), Katahdin (K), and St. Croix(SC)] offered hay diets plus an energy supplement. Hay DMI and total DMI were similar (P > 0.10) among the penned animals and no differences due to sex class (ewe vs wether). Total DMI expressed as percent of BW decreased (P < 0.01) with time from 3.6% to 3.1%. Growth rates on the forage-based diets were moderate, but averaged 0.17 lb/d. Initial and final body weights were higher (P < 0.05) in K lambs, than the other two breeds. The K and SC lambs had a higher (P < 0.05) ADG than BB lambs. There was no effect of sex class on growth performance. Blood urea nitrogen was highest (P < 0.001) for SC and BB (avg 25.4 mg/dl) which were similar compared to K (22.1 mg/dl). There was a Breed x Sex Class interaction for serum creatinine and glucose. Information will be useful in helping define finishing systems for hair sheep that optimize nutrient use and weight gain at low cost for small ruminant producers.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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