Stagnant early growth and mortality are the major impediments for sheep production in southern Ethiopia. We evaluated the effects of non-genetic factors on early growth performance of lambs in Halaba district with 467 lambs owned by 60 households. Body weights (kilograms) of lambs at birth, 30, 60, 90, 120, and 150 days were 2.30 ± 0.03, 4.45 ± 0.11, 6.94 ± 0.13, 10.4 ± 0.19, 13.3 ± 0.19, and 15.7 ± 0.20, respectively. The average daily gain (ADG; gram) from birth to 30, 60, 90, 120, and 150 days were 71.18 ± 8.18, 77.18 ± 2.19, 89.20 ± 1.98, 91.18 ± 1.51, and 90.68 ± 1.27, respectively. Season effect was significant (p < 0.05) for weight at birth, 30, and 120 days. Similarly, season of birth influenced (p < 0.05) ADG (gram) at all ages except from birth to 60 days. Single-born lambs were heavier over multiple births (p < 0.01), 90 (p < 0.001) and 120 days (p < 0.05) and higher (p < 0.001) ADG from birth to 90 days. There were significant interaction effects of parity by sex at birth (p < 0.01) and parity by type of birth (p < 0.001) and 90 days (p < 0.01). From the non-genetic factors estimated in this study, season and type of birth, and their interaction had a more profound effect at early growth of lambs, and they need to be considered in the improvement plan of sheep under Halaba arid to semi-arid environments. Efforts geared towards planned breeding, improved nutrition, and health would assist farmers to exploit these indigenous and adaptable sheep resources efficiently.
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Smallholder sheep and goat owners are dully acknowledged for giving permission to use their animals. Improving Productivity and Market Success (IPMS) of Ethiopian farmers (International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI) and Southern Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) are dully acknowledged for supporting this on-farm study. The authors are also grateful to the staff of the Halaba Bureau of Agriculture.
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Gemiyo, D., Abebe, G. & Tegegne, A. Influences of non-genetic factors on early growth of Adilo lambs under smallholder management systems, southern Ethiopia. Trop Anim Health Prod 46, 323–329 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-013-0490-4