Influence of environmental factors on ponderal performance and morphometric characteristics of lambs of different genetic groups from birth to weaning

The objectives of this work were to evaluate the environmental effects (age of dam, type of birth and sex of lamb) and genetic groups (Hampshire Down and Ile de France, ½ and ¾ Hampshire Down, Ile de France and Suffolk, and ½ Texel) on performance and morphometric characteristics (height, length and heart girth) of lambs; to test regressions to predict live weight of lambs from body measurements; and to describe the growth type of the measurements as function of the weight. Weights and measurements were collected from birth to weaning, every 14 days. For evaluations of performance in relation to environmental effects and genetic groups, only data from birth and from weaning were used; for type of growth all collected data were used. Lambs from younger ewes (2 teeth) presented smaller average for weight at birth, heart girth and height at weaning. Single-birth lambs presented greater averages than twins. Genetic group influenced all traits evaluated, except heart girth at birth and average heart girth gain. Means for birth weight were higher in ¾ Ile de France (3.93±0.16 kg) and lower in ½ Texel lambs (3.04±0.24 kg), and for weaning, they were higher in ½ Texel (14.86±0.87 kg) and lower in Ile de France lambs (11.66±0.83 kg). Year of birth influenced all traits. Heart girth and length showed a negative allometric growth in relation to weight, while between weight and height the relation was positive allometric. The factors that most influenced the performance of lambs from birth to weaning are the type of birth, genetic group and year of birth. Correlations between body weight and morphometric measurements are significant, so it is possible to predict one from the other.

allometric growth; body morphometry; body weight; sheep

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