DRIVING rain, cold westerly wind and predators are often blamed for the death of lambs across the country.
Although tough seasonal conditions and predators are always a risk, new research is revealing which lambs are more likely to fall victim in their first week of birth.
The results are part of the extensive research project conducted by the Sheep CRC, which has now compiled detailed information from more than 9700 progeny over two years of lambing.
Data has been collected from the progeny of 184 sires (wool, dual purpose and terminal) to help improve the accuracy of current Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) for wool, meat, reproduction and growth traits, as well as contributing to the development of new ASBVs such as wrinkle.
In the past two years, Sheep CRC staff have conducted autopsies on every lamb that has died within four days of birth at the eight sites involved in the project.
One of these sites is at Rutherglen where about 500 ewes have just finished lambing. These ewes have been artificially inseminated to a wide range of industry sires and data from the last two lambings have just been analysed.
DPI sheep industry development officer Gervaise Gaunt says detailed analysis of lamb birth weights and survival showed a moderate birth weight of 4.3 to 5.2 kilogram improves the chances of lamb survival during the first week.
*Extract. Full report Stock & Land, August 27.
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