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Investigations into traditionally managed Djallonké-sheep production in the humid and subhumid zones of Asante, Ghana: II. Reproductive events and prolificacy¹

London, J.C., Weniger, J.H., Schwartz, H.J.
Journal of animal breeding and genetics 1994 v.111 no.1-6 pp. 432-450
body weight, ewes, lambs, litter size, parturition, sexual maturity, subhumid zones, wet season, Ghana
SUMMARY: Parturitions of 338 among humid-zone ewes and 690 among subhumid-zone ewes gave rise to 361 and 797 live-born lambs, respectively. Mean age and weight at first parity were 431.3 days and 15.6 kg for the humid-zone ewes while those for the subhumid-zone ewes were 429.4 days and 17.0 kg. Early age at first parity is related to physiological age and growth of body weight which is closely related to early sexual maturity. The monthly distribution of parturitions is discussed with considerably higher peaks in October, April and May in the humid zone while in the subhumid zone, high frequencies were recorded in July, August, February and March. Higher parities significantly shortened the successive parturition intervals within and between the climatic zones with general intervals of 234.2 and 208.7 days among the humid- and the subhumid-zone ewes, respectively, at the fifth parity. The shortest parturition intervals (242.6 days) were recorded during the dryspell-minor wet season (August-October) in the humid zone and the major-wet season (May-July; 223.9 days) in the subhumid zone. Higher annual reproduction rates of 1.95 (1st year) and 1.79 (2nd year) lambs among the free-range ewes while subnormal rates of 1.72 (1st year) and 1.68 (2nd year) lambs among the humid-zone ewes were recorded. These differences are related to the natural service, parturition intervals, litter size and the availability of fodder plants as influenced by management (semi-tethering as against free-range).