Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 4, 2004
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: Casas, E., Freking, B.A., Leymaster, K.A. 2004. Evaluation of Dorset, Finnsheep, Romanov, Texel, and Montadale breeds of sheep: II. Reproduction of F1 ewes in fall mating seasons. Journal Of Animal Science. 82:1280-1289. Interpretive Summary: Differences among breeds of sheep in productivity of economically important traits are genetically based and can be exploited through the use of crossbreeding systems. The comparison of F1 ewes from five different sire breeds provides information to help producers identify breeds that meet specific production requirements. Superior productivity of Romanov-sired ewes was due to greater conception rate and prolificacy at each mating season and ewe age, as well as greater longevity, relative to ewes by Finnsheep, Texel, Dorset, and Montadale sires. Broader use of crossbred ewes incorporating Romanov germplasm would greatly increase the efficiency of commercial sheep production.
Technical Abstract: Objectives were to estimate effects of sire breed (Dorset, Finnsheep, Romanov, Texel, and Montadale), dam breed (Composite III and northwestern whiteface), mating season (August, October, and December), ewe age (1, 2, and 3 yr), and their interactions on productivity of F1 ewes. A total of 1,799 F1 ewes produced 3,849 litters from 4,804 exposures to Suffolk rams during 35 d mating seasons over three years. Ewes were weighed at breeding. Conception rate and ewe longevity (present or absent at 42 mo of age) were determined. Number born and litter birth weight were recorded and number and weight at weaning and 20 wk of age were analyzed separately for dam- and nursery-reared litter mates. Total productivity through 3 yr of age for each ewe entering the breeding flock was calculated as the sum of 20-wk weights for dam- or nursery-reared lambs. Interactions of sire breed x mating season, sire breed x ewe age, and mating season x ewe age were generally significant, whereas, interactions of sire breed, mating season, and ewe age with dam breed were seldom detected (P > 0.05). Interactions of sire breed x mating season were often due to changes in rank as well as magnitude, indicating the importance of matching sire breed to specific mating season. Number born to Dorset-, Texel-, and Montadale-sired ewes was not affected by dam breed; however, Finnsheep-sired ewes out of northwestern whiteface dams were more prolific than Finnsheep-sired ewes out of Composite III dams and the opposite situation existed for Romanov-sired ewes. Least-squares means of sire breeds (P < 0.001) for total productivity of dam-reared lambs were 98.5, 103.5, 106.9, 124.6, and 154.9 kg per ewe entering the breeding flock for Texel, Dorset, Montadale, Finnsheep, and Romanov, respectively. Superior productivity of Romanov-sired ewes was due to greater conception rate and prolificacy for each mating season and ewe age, as well as greater ewe longevity. Total productivity of F1 ewes by Composite III dams (125.6 kg) was greater (P < 0.001) than ewes born to northwestern whiteface dams (109.7 kg) and effect of mating season increased (P < 0.001) from August to October to December. Litter weight at 20 wk of age of 2- and 3-yr-old ewes was similar but greater (P < 0.001) than 1-yr-old ewes. Experimental results provide comprehensive information about the appropriate use of these breeds in crossbreeding systems to meet specific production-marketing objectives.