By Russell Priest

Don’t hesitate to mate ewe lambs out of hoggets if they are up to weight is the message delivered by recent Beef + Lamb NZ funded research at Massey.

Replacements born to ewe lambs performed just as well as those born to mature ewes, if they were heavy enough to be bred at eight-months-of-age. This suggests farmers should not dismiss the idea of selecting replacement lambs from those born to ewe lambs, based on the age of their dam alone. The critical factor is to ensure all ewe lambs are sufficiently heavy at mating, especially any that are born to ewe lambs.

The trial involved three groups of 135 ewe lambs: twin lambs born to mature ewes (M2), single ewe lambs born to hoggets (L1) and twin ewe lambs born to hoggets (L2). They were bred at 209 days of age.

Of all the ewe lambs that were pubertal at the beginning of mating, the L2 group had the highest probability of getting pregnant.

There was no difference in birthweight, weaning weight or survival-to-weaning of the progeny born to the three groups.