Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952 Page: 75
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RESEARCH IN LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION 75
tions and the Department is pointing the way toward increased and
more efficient production. For example, research has shown that the
breeding cycle of sheep can be broken so that sheep raising can be
fitted more methodically into a planned program of farming operations.
Developments like these, and the greater emphasis now being
placed on producing wool domestically as a defense measure, as well
as the improved practices that are being developed from time to time
in breeding, feeding, and management, should encourage more farmers
in many sections of the country to launch sheep raising as a profitable
side line. Following are some of the examples of outstanding results
obtained in the past year in sheep research at the experiment stations.
Protein supplements for wintering breeding ewes
Winter is a critical period for livestock and especially for those
wintered on the range. Breeding ewes need extra protein, minerals,
and vitamins to produce good crops of lambs ana wool. Ranchers
look to their State experiment stations for sound advice on the kinds
and amounts of supplements to feed in order to obtain maximum efficiency
and economy under varying conditions.
Studies of the protein requirements of ewes during gestation at the
Montana station indicate that feeding a supplement of about 0.3 pound
of protein pellets per head daily to ewes wintered on the range will
return an additional profit of $3 to $4 per ewe annually. Ewes receiving
a pelleted concentrate containing 10, 20, 30, or 40 percent of
protein plus minerals and vitamins, weaned 20 to 30 percent more
lambs and sheared heavier fleeces with fewer defects than ewes with
no supplement. Although ewes on the higher levels of protein made
greater gains in body weight during gestation, this difference was not
reflected in the production of wool and lambs. Other ewes were
wintered on the range, but the margin of profit above feed costs was
about the same.
The South Dakota station obtained good results with a ration containing
up to 10 percent of urea fed to wintering pregnant ewes.
When fed at this level urea was equal to soybean meal as a source of
At the Oklahoma station ewes fed a supplement containing 30 percent
of nitrogen in the form of urea responded as well during and
after gestation as those fed an equal amount of protein nitrogen in
cottonseed pellets. Thus urea can be used in a practical way to extend
short supplies of protein feeds.
Physiology of reproduction
Contrary to the opinion long held by physiologists that the nonbreeding
season in sheep results from a lack of hormone secretion, the
Illinois station found that the true cause is an excess of the folliclestimulating
hormone. This excess results in an unbalance between the
follicle-stimulating hormone and the lutenizing hormone. Study
showed that a heretofore unsuspected signaling mechanism operates
between the uterus and the pituitary gland of the ewe. Artificial
"signals" conveyed to the pituitary by the insertion of a small bead in
the uteri of normal ewes caused estrus and ovulation to occur at intervals
as short as 4 days, in contrast to the normal interval of 16 days.
Difficulty is frequently encountered in getting ewes to breed during
hot weather for early lamb production. The Kentucky station reports
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United States. Office of Experiment Stations. Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952, book, January 1953; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5990/m1/77/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.