anestrus, excess fat, lactation, supplementation, lambing rate
Objective: To evaluate the effect of excess fat and suckling control on postpartum reproductive activity of hair ewes.
Design/Methodology/Approach: Eighty-one (81) hair ewes with average weight of 58±8 kg were used, which on postpartum day 7 were assigned to one of four treatments under a completely randomized design with 2×2 factorial arrangement. Factor A is the type of suckling [continuous suckling (CS) and suckling control (SC)] and factor B, excess fat (with or without). In CS, ewes remained with their offspring 24 hours a day (n=16). In continuous suckling plus fat (CSF), ewes remained with the offspring all day plus the addition of 8% in dietary fat (n=24). In SC, it was 30 min of suckling only twice per day (n=14). In suckling control plus fat (SCF), controlled suckling lasted 30 min, twice a day plus 8% fat (n=25).
Results: The response to the treatments was similar (p > 0.05) in onset of estrus, return rate, gestation, prolificacy and fertilization; for the lambing rate variable, there were differences (p ≤ 0.05), the SCF treatment was higher (68%) compared to CS (50%) and CSF (50%), but equal (p < 0.05) to SC (57.1%).
Implications: In this experiment, it was observed that the SCF treatment presented a better response, implying that controlling suckling and providing excess fat helps to restore ovarian activity sooner after lambing.
Conclusions: Suckling control plus inclusion of dietary excess fat in ovulation induction protocols during early postpartum (around day 25 postpartum) can be included in routine reproductive management of flocks, improving the reproductive efficiency of hair sheep.