Review/Oorsig Volume 23, Issue 02 - Page 19

Volume 23 • Issue 02 • 2019 • Magee and Hogue, but unfortunately these never “took off” to become standard practice in either testing or the selection of “fertility” for increased production! Ewes were managed according to “synchronised nutritional demands” i.e. ewes in different physiological states with increased nutritional demands, like before mating (flush feeding) and before lambing, were grouped and managed together… Despite all this I have also found little things which I believe they could have done better or differently: 1. There are other ways in which they could have “solved” the problems which they encountered with the CAMAL system. One being by shortening the mating times through intra-vaginal device synchronisation or even just by having “one cycle mating periods” of 17 – 21 days at a time, instead of 30 day breeding periods. By using single day mating utilizing laparoscopic AI or with natural mating after synchronisation, we have managed to bring down breeding and lambing times to anything between 1 and 7 days. This changes the whole “ball game” with longer recovery times and no “tail” in which they got lower conception rates. 2. Even in the STAR-system their mating periods were too long - they started with 5 mating periods of 30 days each which gave 150 “high intensity days” and were excited when they managed to bring this down to 120 days. I now have STAR systems running on a total of 41, 57 and up to 105 days in total per year giving increased profits by increasing productivity and also by lowering input costs. 3. Methods of synchronisation will be discussed in a separate article. It is the principle of “ultra-short mating and lambing down” which needs to be understood. Short mating periods lead to short lambing periods with shorter “high cost, high intensity feeding and labour days”. 4. We now also remove lambs on day one after birth for “fostering”, leading to a whole lot of other changes. With improved methods of hand- or foster rearing this has become a definite option! By removing the lambs, ewes can be maintained on a diet just above maintenance levels instead of on a “lactation diet” which is up to 2.5 times above maintenance levels for ewes with multiple lambs! Based on feed conversion rates (FCR), it is cheaper feeding a lamb than feeding a ewe to feed her lambs. This is a topic on its own for later discussion. 5. Longer recovery times without lambs at foot leads to better re-conception rates – with both a higher conception as well as a higher fecundity rate. This has “unfortunately”, for the STAR system, lead to us to start looking at even “faster systems”! If we believe that a ewe must, or should, raise her lambs though, the STAR system still is my system of choice! 6. Although their system of giving credit to the top ewes by identifying and naming them STAR- and ALL-STAR ewes was a good one, I have subsequently, and based on the same principles, developed the Da-Jo and Drover identification systems for the same purpose which I believe are “slightly more refined”. Should a Finnsheep ewe producing a twin after a quadruplet and thereby still giving 6 lambs in 2 mating opportunities, not also be an “ALL-STAR ewe? Ewes giving 15 lambs in 3 years and thereby giving a lambing% in excess of 500% became ALL- STAR ewes and thereby ram mothers. Is a ewe giving 16 or 17 lambs in the same time span, but doing so in a different manner, not superior even if it meant 2 quads followed by a skip (as a “resting period in- between”) and another 2 quads afterwards? With ultra-short mating systems where ewes are now given the opportunity to lamb down 6 times in 3 years with an inter-lambing period (ILP) of 181days after re-mating at 35 days, I believe that we are going to get ewes doing this (giving 15 lambs) in 2.5 years, with others exceeding all previous “norms”. Six sets of triplets will give 18 lambs in 3 years – something which I now believe is “very possible”! Although my systems are quite simple, I believe that this should be discussed in a separate article as well. 7. Even though they had extremely prolific breeds Magee and Hogue realized that they did not have the “ideal sheep” for their system “yet” and strived to develop a new breed which they named the “Polypay”. The question arises whether or not we have the right breeds and/or whether we should 19