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Environmental factors and ram influence litter size, birth, and weaning weight in Saint Croix hair sheep under semi-arid conditions in Mexico

Abstract

This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of season, year of lambing, parity, and the effect of ram on litter size, birth, and weaning weight through 8 years. Data of 4078 lambs sired by 21 rams and 1072 ewes were analyzed by a lineal model. There was a significant effect (P < 0.05) of lambing number on litter size and birth weight, but not on weaning weight (P > 0.05). For litter size, the lowest numbers were obtained on the first lambing ewes (1.21 ± 0.03) and the highest ones inewes starting from the fourth lambing (1.69 ± 0.04). Lowest body weights were found in lambs born from first lambing ewes (3.01 ± 0.1 kg) and the highest ones in lambs born from the second (3.14 ± 0.1) to the fifth (3.15 ± 0.2) lambing ewes. The lambing breeding season had a significant effect on weaning weight: the highest weaning weights were recorded in lambs born in spring (12.70 ± 0.20 kg) and the lowest ones in those born in summer (11.93 ± 0.20 kg). Lambing year had a significant effect (P < 0.05) on litter size and weaning weight, since the values of both traits improved through the years. Effect of ram was significant (P < 0.05) for each of the traits considered: there were differences up to one lamb per litter, also differences up to 1.5 kg for birth weight and up to 6.5 kg for weaning weight among rams. In conclusion, these results indicate that environmental conditions are important source of variation in litter size, birth, and weaning weight in hair sheep under semi-arid climate.

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Acknowledgments

Special thanks to the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL) for supporting this research (Facultad de Agronomía of the UANL).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Legal statement of the experiment

Under Mexican law, published in the Official Standard NOM-062-ZOO-1999, it has been complied with animal care throughout the development of this research in sheep owned by the Department of Agronomy of the UANL.

Author information

Correspondence to Fernando Sánchez-Dávila.

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Sánchez-Dávila, F., Bernal-Barragán, H., Padilla-Rivas, G. et al. Environmental factors and ram influence litter size, birth, and weaning weight in Saint Croix hair sheep under semi-arid conditions in Mexico. Trop Anim Health Prod 47, 825–831 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-015-0795-6

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Keywords

  • Litter size
  • Saint Croix
  • Hair sheep
  • Lambing season
  • Rams