Enhancing the productivity of ewe lambs through the use of reproductive management
The purpose of this project is to engage WV, PA and MD producers in a comprehensive education program on management of replacement ewes including use of newer reproductive management techniques and to conduct research trials to investigate the impact of age and weight interactions, nutritional management and progesterone pre-treatment on reproductive performance of ewe lambs. The goals for the first phase of the project included the conduct of a survey of producers, hosting a workshop and the initiation of trials. While many of these activities were initiated, due to the delay in approval of grant and the nature of reproduction in sheep many of the activities schedules for fall of 2014 will now be conducted in the fall of 2015. Specifically, the survey instrument was developed but have not been administered and workshops are planned for this spring and early fall. Producers and extension agents were made aware of the project. Initial trials conducted using 212 ewe lambs showed a higher fertility in older and progesterone-pre-treated ewe lambs, but no effect of level of supplementation. Results of this study have been incoporated into a manuscript which has been accepted for publication. We also observed wide variation in anti-mullerian hoemone (AMH), with a positive correlation between concentration of AMH and fertility of ewe lambs. Trials on 5 farms are planned for this fall.
The objective of the research component of our project is to evaluate the effect of weight at breeding, plane of nutrition, progesterone pre-treatment and concentration of AMH on fertility of ewe lambs. The information derived would be used to develop management strategies that would increase the lambing rate of replacement females by 30-40%.
The objective of the educational program is to improve the knowledge and skills of producers in order to enhance productivity of ewe lambs in the following areas: reproductive management, selection, health and disease and, nutritional and, economic and financial benefits of improved productivity of replacement ewe lambs.
Performance target: Sixty 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.
1. Survey instrument prepared
2. Workshops planned
3. Trial conducted evaluating age, level of nutritional supplementation, progesterone pre-treatment and concentration of AMH on fertility.
4. Producer aware of the project and potential benefits
5. Extension agents made aware of the project and asked to inform interested producers
6. Presentation made to producers in Lewis County WV on “Approaches to improve productivity of the ewe flock” including improving management of the replacement female
7.1 manuscript accepted for publication
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The data from our initial trial provide evidence that progesterone pre-treatment can improve early fertility of ewe lambs which will result in the more lambs of progesterone treated females being born. These lambs will also be born earlier and weigh more at weaning/market. The positive correlation between concentrations of AMH and fertility suggest that this might be used as another tool to help prodcuers select the most productive and profitable replacement females.
Terra Alta Pike
Terra Alta, WV 26764
Office Phone: 3046987197
Scenery Hill, PA 15360
Office Phone: 7245541443
2108 Agriculture Science Building
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506
Office Phone: 3042931946
113 Virginia Avenue
Petersburgh, WV 26847