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A snapshot of the differences of average birth weight between breeds

Analysing the average birth weight for different sheep breeds gives an interesting insight into the differences between the breeds.

Below is an analysis of the raw data for birth weights of the 16 sheep breeds for which Signet holds the most substantial number of records. At birth, ram lambs were significantly larger than ewe lambs across all breeds, although the difference was less pronounced in the Romney Marsh breed. Meatlinc, Suffolk, Charollais and Shropshire sheep had the highest average lamb birth weights, with Welsh Mountain, Scotch Blackface and Romney Marsh sheep having the lowest. Southdowns had the lowest average birth weights for a ‘Terminal type’ breed.

It’s important to note that care should be taken when looking at these results, as management factors such as timing of lambing and feeding of ewes are not considered, but would have an effect on birth weights. The use of intervention during lambing is also not shown here and it is important to consider that lamb shape and pelvic angle will have an impact on lambing ease, in addition to birth weight.
Figure 1: A graph to show the differences in average birth weight split by sex, litter size and breed.Sheep Birth Weight Analysis by Breed.docx 2