Enhancing the productivity of ewe lambs through the use of reproductive management

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2014: $134,152.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Marlon Knights
West Virginia University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Animals: sheep


  • Animal Production: general animal production
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns

    Proposal abstract:

    Replacement ewe lambs comprise 30% of the breeding flock but their productivity is 30-40% lower than that of adult ewes resulting in significant loss in revenue. Delaying breeding of females until they are 15-18 months increases cost of production and does not consistently improve performance. However, despite the potential ability of nutritional and reproductive management strategies to enhance the fertility of replacement females, few producers (8/60) employed specific management practices to address the problem and none (0/60) was able to quantify the economic impact of lower reproductive performance. Further, despite the potential negative impact on lifetime productivity of the female and associated losses, most respondents (40/60) delayed breeding replacement until 15-20 months. All 60 respondents, reported lower performance of their replacement ewe lambs and considered it a serious problem and 66 % of producers indicated interest in learning practices to improve reproductive performance of ewe lambs.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Sixty (60) sheep producers will adopt reproductive and other management practices (selection, nutrition) to enhance productivity of 3000 ewe lambs costing an additional of $8-10/ animal treated, and will increase lambing rate by 30-40%, producing 900 more lambs valued at ~$220,000 each 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.