Carcangiu, Vincenzo and Mura, Maria Consuelo and Vacca, Giuseppe Massimo and Bini, Pier Paolo (2005) Influence of body weight on reproductive activity in Sarda female lambs. Italian Journal of Animal Science, Vol. 4 (Suppl. 2), p. 327-329. eISSN 1828-051X. Article.
One way to improve reproductive performance of ewes is through extending its lifetime productivity. Breeding ewe lambs is one method of improving the reproductive performance in the sheep. In order to produce an offspring when the ewe lamb is approximately 1 yr of age, the autumn-born ewe must obtain puberty before the autumn breeding season begins. Onset of puberty is determined by integration of both internal and external factors, which then enable the neuroendocrine or hormonal event occur (Shirley et al., 2001). Age, photoperiod and body weight are the principal factors influencing puberty. The age at onset of the reproductive activity in the sheep is different among the various breeds. In the Sarda lambs the age of the onset of puberty is about 7-8 months. However the animals that have this age don’t reach the puberty if photoperiod and body weight are not suitable. Both the female lambs born in October-November and in February reach puberty in the same subsequent autumn breeding season. This reproductive behaviour evidences that photoperiod plays an important role in the onset of puberty (Papachristoforou et al., 2000).The female lambs born in later spring uneasily reach puberty within the subsequent breeding season, although photoperiod is favourable. This retard in the onset of reproductive activity is due to the attainment of the body maturity only during subsequent long day period but they reach reproductive activity only during the autumn of the subsequent year (Foster et al., 1985). In fact, some authors suggested that besides photoperiod and age, attainment of the 60% of adult weight is essential for onset of puberty (Abecia et al., 2001). Indeed the undernourished animals delay puberty, in comparison to well nourished subjects (I’Anson et al., 1997). This behaviour is linked to the different LH pulse frequency: restricted diet lambs show one pulse per 4 hours, instead fed ad libitum subjects manifest four or five pulse per 4 hours (Ebling et al., 1990). The purpose of this investigation is to determine the onset of puberty and to research its linkage with body weight in Sarda female lambs during breeding season under natural condition.
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