Effect of litter size on blood haematocrit and liveweight in Booroola Merino and Merino ewes during pregnancy and the post-partum period.

Abstract

Blood haematocrit and liveweight were determined throughout pregnancy and the post-partum period in 217 Booroola Merino and Merino ewes in order to relate these parameters to litter size at birth. In pregnant ewes, haematocrit declined from three until five months gestation, rose immediately after parturition then declined until two months post-partum. During the third to fifth month of gestation, haematocrit decreased in proportion to litter size. Nonpregnant ewes, measured at similar intervals, did not show the same pattern. Haematocrit of nonpregnant animals was higher than that of triplet-bearing ewes at three, four and five months gestation, but was only significantly different to single- and twin-bearing ewes at five months. The liveweight of pregnant ewes increased up to parturition and then declined until two months post-partum. The liveweight of nonpregnant ewes increased over the experimental period. It was concluded that the number of foetuses a ewe carried had significant effects on the decline in haematocrit during pregnancy. Haematocrit was not a precise indicator of litter size in sheep. Haematocrit, ewe liveweight and ovulation rate together in a multiple regression only accounted for 37% of the variation in litter size.

Cite this paper

@article{Owens1984EffectOL, title={Effect of litter size on blood haematocrit and liveweight in Booroola Merino and Merino ewes during pregnancy and the post-partum period.}, author={J. Laurence Owens and B. M. Bindon and T. N. Edey and Laurie R. Piper}, journal={Theriogenology}, year={1984}, volume={22 5}, pages={579-86} }