Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1953 Page: 43
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ANIMAL HUSBANDRY RESEARCH 43
trates during the last 8 weeks of pregnancy if the ewes are well fed
during lactation and the lambs are creep-fed grain. Although ewes
fed a liberal allowance of concentrates in addition to pasture during
late pregnancy dropped and weaned heavier lambs, the advantages
were not sufficient to offset the higher feed cost. Omission of the
concentrates during late pregnancy resulted in savings of from $3.50
to $5 per ewe at current feed prices.
Influence of environmental factors
When buying breeding rams that have been grown to breeding age
under a high plane of nutrition, ranchers have difficulty in estimating
the potential production of such rams under practical range conditions.
The New Mexico station found that ram lambs grown in the
feed lot for 10 months produced about 30 percent more clean wool,
12 percent longer staple, and were 20 percent heavier than similar
rams grazed on the range. These results will aid ranchers in making
proper allowance for the effects of some environmental factors.
Sulfur improves utilization of urea
Experiments conducted at the Illinois station with radioactive
sulfur have shown that inorganic forms of sulfur can be utilized by
sheep to form wool cystine. Body and wool growth of sheep fed a
ration containing urea as the only source of supplemental protein
(nitrogen) was increased significantly by the addition of small
amounts of elemental sulfur, sodium sulfate, or methionine. In a
practical wintering ration fed to ewe lambs, urea plus sulfur, with a
readily available source of energy, replaced two-thirds of the soybean
meal with no loss in weight gains or wool growth. Thus optimum
amounts of sulfur may be of considerable importance to ruminants in
utilizing rations containing nonprotein sources of nitrogen.
Crossbreeding for wool and lamb production
The Virginia station has compared western crossbred ewes, from
four different sources, as replacement breeding stock for commercial
lamb production. Texas blackface ewes, Northwestern blackface and
whiteface ewes, and Northwestern Fine Wool ewes were mated with
mutton-type rams of five different breeds. Two-year data indicate
that the two kinds of blackface ewes gave about equally satisfactory
performance as measured by lamb birth weights, gains, slaughter and
carcass grades, and yields. Fine Wool ewes had fewer twins, and the
lambs graded slightly lower than those of blackface ewes. Mortality
rate was about the same for all groups.
In a similar study at the Mississippi station, Southwestern crossbred
ewes sired by Suffolk and Corriedale rams gave slightly better overall
performance than Northwestern crossbred ewes. The latter were
sired by Columbia and Hampshire rams. Factors considered were
early lambing, birth and weaning weights of lambs, percentage of
lambs raised, and wool production of the ewes.
From an initial cross of Rambouillet ewes and Romney rams followed
by backcrossing the progeny to Rambouillet rams, the Texas
station is developing a fine-wool type of sheep that may be shorn
twice a year, and still yield combing-length wool. Some sheep in the
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United States. Office of Experiment Stations. Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1953, book, 1953; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5989/m1/45/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.