Evaluation of terminal sire breeds for hair sheep production systems

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Virginia Tech


Terminal sire crossbreeding systems which improve growth performance while maintaining parasite resistance have the potential to enhance the profitability of hair sheep enterprises. Katahdin (KT, n = 4), Suffolk (SU, n = 3), and Texel (TX, n = 3) rams were randomly mated to KT ewes over two years (Y1, Y2) at the Virginia Tech Southwest Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Post-lambing until weaning (80 d), pairs were managed on fescue pasture. At weaning, lambs (n = 192) were moved to an ungrazed pasture and provided a concentrate pellet daily for a 90 d grazing trial. During this time, BW, strongylid egg count (FEC), FAMACHA score and packed cell volume (PCV) were collected every 14 d. FAMACHA score - 3 was utilized as the basis for anthelmintic treatment. Post-grazing, lambs were fed to approximately 50 kg BW. Lambs were harvested at the Virginia Tech Meat Center and carcass evaluation performed 1 d post-harvest. Statistical analyses were conducted using SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC) with Proc MIXED for repeated measures analysis and Proc GLM with Tukey?s test for mean separation. No differences existed between sire breeds for adjusted number of lambs born or number of lambs weaned. Adjusted birth BW was greater for SU-sired lambs than KT-sired and TX-sired (P < 0.05) in Y2. Adjusted weaning BW was smallest for KT-sired lambs compared to SU- and TX-sired lambs (P < 0.05) in both years. During the grazing trials, BW, ADG, lnFEC, FAMACHA and PCV varied over time (P < 0.001) with lower FAMACHA scores for KT-sired lambs than SU- and TX-sired lambs in Y1 (P < 0.05). A greater proportion of SU-sired lambs tended to require deworming than KT-sired lambs (P = 0.08). Adjusted BW post weaning was greater for TX-sired lambs than KT-sired lambs (P < 0.05) in Y1. Post-grazing, BW and ADG varied over time (P < 0.01) with no sire breed differences for ADG. At harvest, SU-sired lambs were heavier than KT-sired lambs (P < 0.05). TX-sired lambs had greater LM area than KT-sired lambs (P = 0.05). KT-sired lambs had the smallest leg scores (P < 0.05). These results indicate the potential of terminal sires (SU- and TX-sires) to improve lamb growth and carcass merit. TX-sired lambs had more similar parasite resistance characteristics to KT-sired Iambs and may have potential as terminal sires in forage based hair sheep production systems.



sheep, breed, Performance, parasite resistance