Abstract #631

# 631
A comparison of ewe colostrum and a colostrum alternative (Volostrum®) as a colostrum source for artificially reared triplet lambs.
Tommy M. Boland*1, Fiona M. McGovern1, Francis P. Campion1, Jessica Cooke2, 1School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, 2Volac International Ltd, Orwell, Royston, UK.

Prolificacy is a key driver of output and profitability in sheep-meat production systems. An increase in multiple births is associated with increasing prolificacy. Litter sizes of 3 or more lambs can potentially increase sheep meat production if managed appropriately however such litters are often associated with increased mortality and low post natal growth. Potential mechanisms to reduce these performance bottlenecks include artificially rearing one lamb of each triplet set. The objective of this study was to compare the pre-weaning, post-weaning and slaughter performance of triplet lambs, removed from their dams at birth. Animals were subjected to one of 2 treatments (n = 15 per treatment) for the first 24 h of life. Lambs received either ewe colostrum at one, 10 and 18 h postpartum (C) or they received a commercial colostrum alternative (Volostrum; V). From 24 h postpartum until weaning (at 6 weeks of age) all lambs received artificial milk replacer ad libitum (Lamlac). Concentrate feed was introduced at 10 d of age and lambs were weaned to an all concentrate diet, once daily concentrate intakes reached 250 g FW. Pre-weaning lamb growth rate averaged 384 g/d and did not differ with treatment. Post weaning lamb growth rate tended to be higher for lambs offered ewe colostrum in the first 24 h of life (412 vs. 325 g/d; P = 0.06). The C lambs had higher live weights at 10, 11 and 12 weeks of age (P < 0.05). There was a tendency for higher lifetime growth rates for the lambs offered ewe colostrum (392 vs. 324 g/d: P = 0.07). Lambs offered ewe colostrum during the first 24 h of life reached target slaughter weight (44 kg) 24 d earlier (109 d) than lambs offered Volostrum (P < 0.01) however other slaughter and carcass parameters did not differ with treatment. In conclusion, a colostrum alternative supports high pre-weaning and post-weaning lamb growth rates, however performance advantages in terms of post weaning growth rate and reduced days to slaughter are conferred when lambs consume ewe colostrum during the first day of life.

Key Words: colostrum, colostrum alternative, lamb