Agriculture and Food Systems - Theses

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    A study of weight-loss and compensatory gain in sheep
    Winter, W. H ( 1971)
    Two experiments of similar nature were conducted. In the first experiment 49 Corriedale wethers at approximately 8 months of age were allocated to four experimental groups and, within groups, to various slaughter weights which were spaced at 5 kg intervals. Group I animals were fed ad libitum and slaughtered - over a body weight- range of 38 - 63 kg inclusive. Groups II and III animals were fed ad libitum until 48 kg body weight hereupon intake was restricted to achieve a body weight loss of 0.9 kg/week until body weights were reduced to 38.5 kg and 34.5 kg, respectively. Ad libitum feeding was then resumed and animals were slaughtered up to 63 kg body weight at the same weight intervals as in Group I. Group IV animals were fed ad libitum until 48 kg body weight and then, food was adjusted to maintain body weight at 48 kg. Four animals were slaughtered after 60 days and a further four after 120 days of maintenance of body weight. In the second experiment, 15 wethers of similar age, breed and nutritional history as those used in Experiment 1, were allocated to four slaughter groups in a treatment similar to that of Group III in Experiment 1. Four animals were slaughtered at 33 kg body weight at the beginning of the first period of ad libitum feeding; three animals slaughtered at 45.5 kg at the end of the first period of ad libitum feeding; three animals slaughtered at 33.5 kg at the end of the weight loss phase; and five animals slaughtered at 46.5 kg at the end of the second period of ad libitum feeding. The compensatory growth rates of animals in Groups II and III were greater than those of Group I in each of the successive 5.5 kg increments in body weight. By maintaining higher growth rates over the entire weight range, the largest animals of Groups I I and III were slaughtered at a similar age to those, of Group I. Similarly, in Experiment 2, the compensatory growth rates (Group VI) were greater than continuous growth rates (Group V) over the body weight range used in this experiment. The data was transformed to logarithms in order to use Huxley's (1932) allometric growth equation in the linear form for an analysis of covariance. During continuous growth (Groups I and V), the empty body weight (EBW) increased as a proportion of full body weight (FEW) whilst during the compensatory growth which followed weight loss (Groups II, III and VI) the proportion of EBW remained constant. At the same FEW the EBW of Groups I I and III was less than that of Group I. Similarly, the EBW of animals maintained at a constant body weight (Group IV) was less, at the same FBW, than that of Group I. Carcass weight (CW) increased as a proportion of EBW as EBW increased in Groups I and V but the proportion remained constant in Groups II, III and VI. At the geometric mean FEW, treatment did not affect CW. However, the apparent dressing percentage (CW / FBW x 100) was 2% less during compensatory growth compared with that during continuous growth. The carcass length of animals in Groups II, III and IV was greater than that of animals in Group I.
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    The effect of the level of nutrition during pregnancy and lactation on the production of grazing sheep, and the interaction between levels of fertility and nutrition
    Papadopoulos, J. C ( 1956)
    The livelihood of the sheep farmer depends upon the success with which his ewes produce and rear healthy lambs. This is of particular truth in those areas where fat lambs are produced. It is well known that the production of lambs in large number and in good health depends very largely upon the standard of feeding of the ewes during pregnancy and lactation. however in most areas of the world sheep are restricted to those marginal localities in which the agriculturist finds it difficult to produce milk, eggs or vegetables. Under these conditions, the feeding of pregnant and lactating ewes becomes a task of some difficulty. Where food is in short supply it is very necessary to know at what stage of pregnancy or lactation the plane of nutrition should be raised. Thomson and Thomson (1949) have shown that in Scotland the sheep farmer should feed a supplement to his ewes during late pregnancy. Coop (1950) on the other hand has shown that under his New Zealand conditions, the supplement was best reserved until lactation has commenced. It was thought important to know the effect of different planes of nutrition on pregnant and lactating ewes under the conditions of sheep farming in South Victoria. It was for this reason that the present investigation was undertaken. In addition it was thought to be of interest to determine the interaction "if any" between the level of fertility and that of nutrition
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    Nutritional studies of the young lamb
    Hodge, Russell ( 1967)
    This thesis is based on original research work in a subject approved by the Faculty of Agriculture and is submitted under regulation 3.28 Section 6(a) of the conditions relating to the degree of Master of Agricultural Science. The experiments presented have been published in the Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry or in the Proceedings of the Australian Society of Animal Production. They were conducted while the author was a member of the Victorian Department of Agriculture which provided the facilities for this work. The first chapter of the thesis is a review of the literature on the digestibility of milk and solid food by the young ruminant - more specifically the calf and the lamb. The second chapter describes two experiments on the apparent digestibility of ewes milk and dried pasture by young lambs and the third chapter comprises two experiments relating to the effect of milk intake on the pasture consumption of lambs. The fourth chapter reports observations on the diet selected by grazing lambs in relation to older sheep. I was responsible for the design of this experiment, was actively associated with the field work and prepared the manuscript for publication. The fifth chapter is a paper on the effect of nutritional restriction during pregnancy on the reproductive performance of crossbred ewes and the subsequent growth of their lambs. The sixth chapter provides summaries of the experiments presented.
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    Variability in the intake of supplements by grazing sheep
    Lobato, Jose Fernando Piva ( 1979)
    Although the practice of feeding supplements to grazing animals is widespread through the world, its efficiency still deserves further study. Factors associated with the supplements themselves, the animals being fed, the environment, and the grazing diet being supplemented together constitute a set of variables which affects not only acceptance and intake, but also the nutritional and economic efficiencies of supplementary feeding. This study is concerned with the feeding of supplements to grazing sheep under temperate climatic conditions. Oat grain, hay and molasses-urea blocks (Barastoc, KMM Pty. Ltd., Melbourne) were used initially, but subsequent experiments were confined to the utilization of molasses-urea blocks. Only recently have researchers emphasized the importance of variability in supplement intake between individuals within a herd or flock and estimates of intake, with large ranges between animals, have now appeared in the literature. Langlands and Bowles (1976) considered that such wide variabilities in intake, limit the effectiveness of all forms of supplementation. However, little is known about the factors affecting variability in a group situation and few attempts have been made to identify the possible factors inducing such wide ranges of intakes in grazing animals. Arnold and Bush (1968) identified three types. of sheep: "shy-feeders", periodic non-feeders, and over indulgers". In some situations social dominance has been observed to affect responses to supplements (Franklin and Sutton, 1952; Wagnon, 1965; Squires and Daws, 1975) , and Arnold and taller (1974) correlated the intake of supplements with body weights of sheep. Chapter 1 of this thesis reviews the direct and indirect effects on animal performance of the main factors related to the feeding of supplements. Chapter 2 presents estimations of intake of three supplements, oats, hay, molasses-urea block, made with sheep in small paddocks. Results of behavioural observations and body measurements of the sheep are presented and discussed separately in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 provides an assessment of the acceptability of molasses-urea blocks by seven different flocks of grazing sheep on five private properties. The effects of confining sheep in yards on their acceptance of the blocks are also reported. Few studies have sought to determine whether management stratagems may improve the rate of adaptation of sheep to molasses-urea blocks and induce more uniform intakes between animals. Pilot trials described in Chapter 5 were conducted to identify possible management procedures that may be suitable for these purposes. Four such procedures were sufficiently encouraging to justify testing in a replicated experiment, which is described in Chapter 6. These treatments were imposed on sheep confined in yards and fed hay at a submaintenance levels. The investigations described in Chapter 7 utilised a different approach and are concerned with the behavioural aspects of learning, a topic which has been intensively studied with laboratory animals but only rarely with farm animals. The effects of offering molasses-urea blocks to lambs in the pre-weaning period are assessed in terms of their acceptance of blocks in later life. Inevitably only a few experimental possibilities and combinations have been assessed in the work reported in this thesis. Major attention was directed towards molasses-urea blocks because they induced wider variability in the responses by sheep than did hay or grain supplements . The blocks used were those manufactured by KMM Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, had a hard texture for protection against wet weather conditions and required animals to lick them rather than chew them. Variations in block formulation were not studied in the work described in this thesis and it remains possible that other types of block may have produced different results.
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    Effects of some management factors on sheep and wool production
    Cannon, D. J ( 1970)
    It is difficult to be precise about the importance of the contributions made by the many people involved in this work. On a government research station and on private farms, field experiments inevitably involve many people. However, in each chapter presented in this thesis I made a major contribution in the planning, supervising and conducting of the experiment and in preparation of the results for publication. Where authorship has been shared, this is indicated at the beginning of each chapter. Some indication of the relative importance of contributions to this work is as follows:- Chapter I: The experiments were done on two sites, and at one of them Katamitite) I was directly responsible for the work. Chapters II, III: This work undertaken jointly with Mr. J.G. Bath, Chapters IV, V: This work was my responsibility. Chapter VI: The observations on sheep were my responsibility whereas those on pastures were the responsibility of Mr. J. Avery and Mr. I. Cameron. I prepared the manuscripts for chapters I to V and contributed to the preparation of that for chapter VI.
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    The nutrition of multiple-bearing ewes in late pregnancy
    Hall, David Graham ( 1989)
    The nutrition of multiple-bearing ewes in late pregnancy and relationships with lamb survival are reviewed (Chapter 1). The frequent reductions in voluntary intake in late pregnancy, the reliance on maternal reserves and the key role of glucose and protein are highlighted. The sensitivity to nutritional manipulation of traits associated with lamb survival and their variation due to litter size are discussed. The traits include lamb birth weight, lamb vigour, ewe mammary growth and colostrum production, maternal behaviour and gestation length. A hypothesis 'That short-term supplementation of multiple-bearing ewes late in pregnancy will improve responses associated with lamb survival' was developed. Supplementing prolific ewes with lupin grain for the final 10 days of pregnancy has previously significantly increased lamb survival rates (Chapter 2). Experiments were designed to test the hypothesis. Treatments included supplements of different grains, nitrogen or rumen undegradable protein and direct infusions of glucose. Responses measured included production traits associated with lamb survival, glucose, urea and fatty acid production rates, some hormone concentrations, voluntary feed intake and mobilisation of maternal reserves. The variation in responses was compared at various litter sizes. Treatments were selected so that results could be modified and then applied directly to grazing sheep in southern Australia. In the first experiment (Chapter 3) a lupin grain supplement fed to Booroola (prolific) ewes in the final 17 days of pregnancy reduced condition score losses compared to no supplement or an oat grain supplement. -Live weight gains were highest with the lupin supplement and with no supplement. There was a trend for milk production at day two post-partum to be higher with the lupin supplement. Some of the multiple-born lambs died because of low colostrum intake, as indicated by low serum immunoglobulin concentrations. The possible importance of colostrum and initial milk production was demonstrated. Colostrum production and milk production on day one and nine were similar from single and multiple-bearing ewes fed a ration containing 100 g protein/10 MJ metabolizable energy and this ration supplemented with formaldehyde-protected casein or urea (Chapter 4). The ration was fed at 90% of the average estimated requirements of all ewes in the final five weeks of pregnancy. Gestation length was two days shorter with the casein supplemented diet which resulted in twin-born lambs from this diet being about 14% lighter than lambs born to ewes fed the basal ration. Glucose production on day 121 was 32% higher with multiple than single-bearing ewes even though intakes were comparable. Many ewes had low voluntary intakes on the grain/roughage ration and this resulted in large energy deficits. On a roughage/ oat grain ration fed for the final seven weeks of gestation, single and multiple-bearing ewes had consistently low and equivalent intakes (Chapter 5). Nonesterified fatty acid production rates on day 115 and 136 averaged 65 % higher for multiple than single-bearing ewes and rates were similar on both days. Glucose production increased by 32 % between these days and was 17 % greater for multiple than single-bearing ewes. The correlation coefficient of fatty acid and glucose production rates was about 0.7 on both days of measurement. The provision of a large glucose source late in pregnancy may be beneficial to multiple-bearing ewes when their voluntary intake potential seems low. Multiple-bearing ewes were infused at the abomasum from day 119 to 145 of gestation with nil, 106 or 207 g glucose /day (Chapter 6). The glucose was estimated to provide an additional 20 or 40 % energy compared to the basal ration of lucerne chaff. The ewes which were infused with glucose gained more weight during the treatment period (90, 159 and 267 g/d for basal, +20% and +40% energy respectively). Litter weight, colostrum yield and early milk production were insensitive to additional energy, as glucose, in the last 30 days of pregnancy in the circumstances where ewes were in low condition and fed a restricted roughage ration containing a high percentage of protein. The insensitivity seemed to lie with increased insulin levels leading to peripheral tissue accretion. Again high variation occurred in colostrum yields, although amounts were higher than in previous experiments. There were significant positive correlations between litter weight and both progesterone and plasma ovine placental lactogen levels in late pregnancy. Colostrum production was negatively correlated to progesterone concentrations measured in late pregnancy. Intake declined close to parturition even with the glucose infused ewes. When ewes were fed a medium quality roughage ad libitum, a lupin supplement in the final 10 days of pregnancy increased colostrum yield by 37% and milk production on day 1 by 28% when averaged over all ewes (Chapter 9). The largest response occurred with the triplet-bearing ewes, which had much lower production than single and twin-bearing ewes. Lambs born to lupin supplemented ewes had faster growth rates to day 1 and 3 post-partum. Benefits occurred either through additional substrates and /or by changing hormonal status, specifically progesterone. Colostrum levels at birth and total milk production to 24 hours were significantly improved when multiple-bearing ewes were supplied with supplements of glucose, lupin grain or undegradable rumen protein in the final 10 days of pregnancy. The basal ration was a medium quality roughage fed at a restricted level. The results provided strong evidence that additional protein which escapes rumen degradation will increase colostrum production near birth and advance the timing of copious milk production. The colostrum and milk yields were negatively correlated to progesterone concentrations near parturition. Prolactin and ovine placental lactogen concentrations measured before and after parturition were poorly correlated with the lactation results. Triplet bearing ewes had lower milk production than twin bearing ewes. There were no effects of the treatments on birth weight, but large effects on ewe live weight change and gestation length. The mechanisms could be due to extra fat mobilisation in late pregnancy with additional protein supplies, changes in hormone status, or possibly the supply of extra amino acids compared to the non-protein treatments. Variability in the colostrum and milk responses on the glucose treatment made it unclear what the role of glucose was for colostrum production. Milk production of multiple-bearing ewes is likely to be below that required by their litter in a cold and wet environment in the first 24 hours when the ewes are fed a medium quality roughage diet (Chapters 7 and 10). Lambs had a potential colostrum intake in the first two hours of an average 110 g and 230 g/kg birth weight during the first day (Chapter 8). This amount was usually above that available to all lambs in the litter from the dam. The potential intake was also above that required in most environments. Limited variation in intake between lambs within a litter may be crucial to survival of the complete litter. It is proposed that protein has a specific effect on the endocrinology of the ewe in late pregnancy. Thus a possible hypothesis consistent with these data is that increased amino acid supply at the tissue level results in a faster clearance of progesterone allowing lactogenic hormones and hormones involved with the initiation of parturition to act. These experiments have thus demonstrated that short-term supplementation of ewes can influence some traits associated with lamb survival, including colostrum production at birth and milk production during the following 24 hours. Multiplebearing ewes will often have lower amounts of colostrum and early milk production than single bearing ewes. Supplementing ewes on medium quality protein/energy pastures with feed sources which provide a high protein yield at the small intestine should increase the initial lactation output and possibly survival rates of multiple-born lambs.