The Economics of Early Weaning and Early Breeding of Range Ewe Lambs

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $22,200.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G397-22-W8613
Grant Recipient: Peckham Livestock
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Gene Peckham
Peckham Livestock

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: feed management, livestock breeding
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns

    Proposal summary:

    This study is a pilot for a larger R&E proposal we hope to submit using more producers and more lambs.  Commercial ewe lambs are difficult to get pregnant in their first year and are typically held a year before breeding.  I do put rams in with my ewe lambs with little success (<15%).  Other producers I talk to have the same issue.  Visiting with Dr. Todd Robinson, issues include ewe lamb weight relative to mature weight and the exposure to a ram before the actually breeding period.  We can breed in the first year increasing productivity of the ewe by 20% or more.  The growth of the lambs will be determined throughout the study. One twin will be early weaned (EWL) and the other remaining with the mother (NWL) until we normally weaned, another group of twins (CTRL) will remain with the mother until normal weaning.  After weaning the EWL, NWL and one CRTL will be introduced to rams 30 days before breeding, remain for two weeks, removed for two weeks then returned for 30 days. Thirty days after removal of the rams we will ultrasound the ewes to determine our success.  We will continue to monitor the growth of these ewes and their lambs until they wean their lambs in the fall.  We will track the cost and determine the economic benefit of early weaning. Increasing productivity of the ewe lambs will increase income for the producer.  Pamphlets and videos will be produced and disseminated to producers. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The focus of this research is to determine if range ewe lambs can be bred at seven to eight months of age and is it economical.  Our objectives include:

    1. Determine if early weaning commercial ewe lambs can result in increased pregnancies at 8 months of age.
    2. Determine the percentage bred, lambed, and weaned of early weaned ewe lambs.
    3. Determine if early weaning is economically beneficial.

    Our hypothesis is that the early weaning of range ewe lambs is economically beneficial and will result in the ewes bred in their first year.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.