Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #187704


item Wildeus, S
item Turner, Kenneth - Ken
item Collins, J

Submitted to: Sheep and Goat Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/25/2005
Publication Date: 12/15/2005
Citation: Wildeus, S., Turner, K.E., Collins, J.R. 2005. Growth Performance of Barbados Blackbelly, Katahdin, and St. Croix Hair Sheep Lambs Fed Pasture- or Hay-based Diets. Sheep and Goat Research Journal 20:37-41.

Interpretive Summary: With an expansion of non-traditional markets for meat goat kids and lambs that accept smaller and leaner carcasses, there is a need to evaluate the ability of hair sheep to produce lamb for these niche and specialty markets on forage-based diets with limited grain supplementation. We evaluated growth performance of Barbados Blackbelly, Katahdin, and St. Croix hair sheep lambs fed forage-based rations of either pasture or hay with limited supplementation and management input. Katahdin and St. Croix lambs grew faster than Barbados Blackbelly lambs. Pen-fed lambs receiving alfalfa hay grew faster than lambs grazing grass pasture. The final weight of lambs at the end of the grazing season would have made them suitable primarily for the ethnic market, rather than the traditional lamb market. This information is useful to animal scientists developing computer models of small ruminant growth. It will benefit producers by limiting or reducing the amount of purchased feeds necessary to finish lambs and sell to high dollar ethnic markets, thereby improving overall farm income.

Technical Abstract: Two experiments evaluated growth of mixed-sex Barbados Blackbelly, Katahdin, and St. Croix hair sheep lambs raised on pasture or hay-based diets with moderate levels of energy supplementation. In Experiment 1, 36 ewe and wether lambs were allocated to a pasture or pen feeding group in May. Pasture animals rotationally grazed tall fescue pasture, while pen animals were offered chopped alfalfa hay, and both groups were supplemented with corn/soybean meal at 0.75% of body weight. In Experiment 2, 72 lambs were allocated to pen and pasture in April, and provided with either a 12% CP (energy) or 18% CP (protein) corn/soybean meal supplement at 1.5% of body weight. Pasture animals were continuously grazed, while pen animals were offered chopped mixed grass hay. In both experiments, starting and final body weights were higher (P < 0.05) in Katahdin than St. Croix and Barbados Blackbelly. In Experiment 1 daily gain was similar between Katahdin (84 g/d) and St. Croix (75 g/d), and higher (P < 0.01) than in Barbados Blackbelly (56 g/d). Daily gain was higher (P < 0.05) in pens (77 g/d) than on pasture (67 g/d). In Experiment 2, growth rates were higher than in Experiment 1, and Katahdin (109 g/d) grew faster (P < 0.05) than St. Croix (86 g/d) than Barbados Blackbelly (73 g/d). Growth was not affected (P > 0.10) of forage base or supplement type, but wether lambs grew faster (P < 0.05) than ewe lambs. The growth rates in both trials were moderate and produced in lambs suitable primarily for the ethnic market.