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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Genetics and Animal Breeding » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #350968

Research Project: Developing a Systems Biology Approach to Enhance Efficiency and Sustainability of Beef and Lamb Production

Location: Genetics and Animal Breeding

Title: Status of evaluation of three maternal lines under pasture lambing experiment at USMARC

item Freking, Bradley - Brad

Submitted to: World Wide Web
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2018
Publication Date: 2/8/2018
Citation: Freking, B.A. 2018. Status of evaluation of three maternal lines under pasture lambing experiment at USMARC [abstact]. American Sheep Industry 2018 Convention, San Antonio, TX, Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2018. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Experimental data and our interpretation of the evaluation of three maternal lines of sheep was summarized and presented to producers at the annual American Sheep Industry Association Annual meeting. The objective of the overall experiment is to develop an easy-care maternal line of prolific hair sheep that can raise triplets on pasture without increased labor or supplemental feed. The breed composition of the newly created maternal line was ½ Romanov, ¼ White Dorper, and ¼ Katahdin. Direct comparisons of ewe productivity measures of the composite were made to Katahdin and Polypay breeds as industry standards for both hair and wool maternal breeds, respectively. The production system evaluated was May lambing under pasture environmental conditions. This interim evaluation of the experiment was conducted with about three-fourths of the programmed data collected. The composite maternal line showed improved conception rates, lambing rates, lamb survival, and weaning rates that allowed them to accumulate 9.1- and 17.2-kg more total lamb weight at 20 weeks per ewe exposed than the Polypay and Katahdin breeds, respectively. Forty-one percent of the composite ewes that produced triplets were able to successfully wean all three lambs, while 86% were able to wean at least two. Utilizing appropriate genetics resources for increased reproduction under low input management systems is attainable. Utilizing both maternal and individual lamb heterosis is the most important aspect available to sheep producers to increasing reproductive performance and increase our competitiveness in the domestic and global market.