Heavier Fleeces Take a Toll
March 25, 2005
March 25, 2005 -- According to CSIRO Livestock Industries and the Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre, a significant link has been detected between one of the most desirable wool traits in Merino sheep and the animal's ability to maintain body reserves.
The research has found there is a large difference between the fat content of sheep that produce high clean fleece weights (CFWs) compared to those that produce low CFWs but have the same live-weight.
Trials found sheep that grew 43 percent more wool had 20 percent less fat in their bodies compared to low CFW sheep. The high CFW sheep also lost weight 23 percent faster on poor quality diets.
The findings have significant implications for other production characteristics, reproduction and for ensuring the animals' welfare. For example, a reduction in fat is know to have a negative influence on pregnancy and lambing rates as well as the animal's ability to withstand feed shortages.
This year, research will examine the affects that level of feed supply has on the correlation between CFW, body reserves and reproduction.