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Effects of recipient breed on birth and weaning weight and wool follicle numbers of Merino lambs born by embryo transfer

T. Wuliji1, R. N. Andrews2, K.G. Dodds2, J. Aspinal2, T. Harison2 and B. Mocket2

1E (Kika) de la Garza Institute For Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK 73050, and 2AgResearch, Private Bag 50034, Mosgiel, New Zealand

One hundred and eighty-three embryos were collected from 29 donor Merino ewes and transferred as either a single or twins into Merino (MR), Coopworth (CR), and Romney (RR) recipient dams. A total of 107 lambs were weaned from these implants. A control group (MN) of 24 naturally conceived single and twin lambs were included for progeny comparisons. Data were analyzed by GLM procedures. Birth weight was 4.2, 4.4, 4.4, and 4.0 kg (SED 0.2) for MN, MR, CR, and RR, while weaning weight was 25.6, 30.4, 27.6, and 28.9 kg (SED 1.1), respectively. Follicle fiber area was measured 232, 243, 256, and 253 m2 (SED 12) for MN, MR, CR and RR at birth, and 218, 203, 216, and 207 m2 (SED 16) at weaning, respectively. Follicle fiber diameter at birth was 16.7, 17.2, 17.7, and 17.6 m (SED 0.4) for MN, MR, CR, and RR, while fiber diameter of wool samples at birth was similar for all groups (16.5 ± 0.3 m). The range in wool fiber diameter was less at weaning (19.8 to 21.7%) than at birth (24.7 to 26%). Fiber curvature of MN at birth was 107C, which was greater (P < 0.01) than for other groups (95 for MR, 96 for CR, and 96 for RR, respectively; SED 3.2). Follicle density was 121, 122, 118, and 114 (SED 10) per mm2 for MN, MR, CR, and RR groups at birth, and 107, 114, 116, and 109 (SED 8) per mm2 at weaning, respectively; both variables were similar among treatments. Follicle fiber diameter at weaning were 16.5, 15.9, 16.3, and 16.1 m (SED 0.6) for MN, MR, CR, and RR, respectively, while corresponding wool fiber diameter at weaning was 16.3, 16.1, 16.0, and 16.0 m (SED 0.4) at weaning. Lambs of RR and CR were heavier (P < 0.05) at weaning than those of Merino (recipients or naturally bred) dams. These results suggest that crossbred dams improve weaning weight of lambs born to embryo transfers but do not effect wool follicle characteristics of Merinos.


 

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