Flock Nutrition And Reproduction

Nutrition has a direct influence on incidence of estrus, ovulation rate, embryo survival, and sperm production.

Before the breeding season, reproductive management should include getting the ram into breeding condition. The sperm production cycle takes 49 days, plus an additional 11 15 days for the sperm to travel the length of the epididymis. A slowly increasing plane of nutrition, depending on the body condition score (BCS) of a ram two months before the expected breeding season, will help ensure high fertility.[3] A good BCS is when rams are neither too fat nor too thin as they enter the breeding season.

A high plane of nutrition a few days or weeks before breeding has been associated with a greater number of ovulations at breeding.[1,6] Diet influences embryonic and fetal survival during gestation and the birth weight of lambs. The nutritional level during mid- and late-pregnancy has a greater influence on fetal development than on survival.[7] A change in nutritional level after mating, whether up or down, may induce greater losses than an unchanging nutritional status held at an intermediate level.[6]

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