Accelerated lambing achieved by a photoperiod regimen consisting of alternating 4-month sequences of long and short days applied year-round

Authors: Cameron, Johanne; Malpaux, Benoit; Castonguay, François
Abstract: The objective of this work was to evaluate the reproductive performance of ewes exposed to a photoperiodic regimen consisting of continuous alternating 4-mo periods of long days (LD: 16 h of light/d) and short days (SHD: 8 h of light/d) in an accelerated lambing program of 3 lambings in 2 yr. A total of 211 prolific Rideau Arcott ewes were assigned to the photoperiodic treatment, whereas 37 ewes were maintained under natural annual variation in day length (control group). Ewes under the photoperiod regimen were divided into 4 subgroups (A, B, C, D). All these groups of ewes were exposed to the same light regimen, but the LD and SHD light sequences were staggered by 2 mo to permit the evaluation of the effect of time and season of mating on performance of the ewes treated with the photoperiod. The control ewes were treated with intravaginal sponges in the out-of-season breeding periods (conventional approach). Each group of ewes was studied over 3 reproductive cycles. Two groups of rams exposed to alternating 2-mo sequences of LD and SHD were used for mating. The short mean interval between ram introduction and conception for the groups exposed to artificial photoperiod (9.4 d) confirmed the effectiveness of the treatment to induce intense sexual activity. For the 12 breeding periods studied (8 in out-of-season and 4 in sexual season), fertility rate of the ewes treated with photoperiod, mated at various times of year, was 91.6%, which is comparable with the fertility normally seen in the natural breeding season. The number of lambs born/ewe remained constant across reproductive cycles and was greater in photoperiod-treated groups (2.81 vs. 2.27 for photoperiod and control groups, respectively; P = 0.0002). Groups exposed to photoperiod treatment obtained better fertility rate than the control group in out-of-season breeding (91.1 vs. 76.3%; P = 0.016). Ewes managed under the photoperiod regimen produced 1.38 lambings/yr and 69% of them lambed 3 times in 2 yr. Overall, the ewes in the photoperiodic treatment produced annually 3.78 lambs/ewe. The reproductive performances achieved throughout the years indicate that the photoperiodic program tested, consisting of continuous alternating 4-mo periods of LD and SHD, allows control of the annual reproductive cycles in ewes.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 2 July 2010
Open Access Date: 16 March 2016
Document version: VoR
This document was published in: Journal of animal science, Vol. 88 (10), 3280 (2010)
American Society of Animal Science.
Alternative version: 10.2527/jas.2010-2911
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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