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Sheep mortality during the first year of life is a large problem on many farms and poses a significant animal welfare issue for Australian agriculture. Post weaning mortality is estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry more than $89 million annually through reduced income, poor productivity and increased management expenses (Sackett et al. 2006).
A high mortality rate among weaners reduces the number of surplus animals available for sale and the number of potential breeding replacements. This, in turn, affects the selection intensity for desirable traits and the flock’s rate of genetic improvement.
Ill thrift and poor growth of weaner sheep during their first year can reduce wool and meat production as well as the weaner’s reproductive performance at first joining.
Number of Pages
Animal nutrition, Australian merino, Sheep, Sheep feeding, Sheep farming, Mortality, Western Australia
Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Animal Sciences
Harper, P, Croker, K, and Roberts, D. (2009), Management of Merino weaners for optimum production. Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, Perth. Bulletin 4762.