Mammary Gland Structures Are Not Affected by an Increased Growth Rate of Yearling Ewes Post-Weaning but Are Associated with Growth Rates of Singletons.

The experiment aimed to examine the impacts of an increased growth rate of ewes between three and seven months of age on udder development using ultrasound and to establish whether ultrasonography could be used to identify ewe mammary structures that may be indirect indicators of singleton growth to weaning. Udder dimensions, depths of gland cistern (GC), parenchyma (PAR) and fat pad (FP) were measured in late pregnancy (P107), early lactation (L29), and at weaning (L100) in 59 single-bearing yearling ewes selected from two treatments. The 'heavy' group (n = 31) was preferentially fed prior to breeding achieving an average breeding live-weight of 47.9 ± 0.38 kg at seven months of age. The 'control' group (n = 28) had an average breeding live-weight of 44.9 ± 0.49 kg. Udder dimensions, GC, PAR and FP did not differ between treatments. Lamb growth to L100 was positively associated (p < 0.05) with PAR at P107 and GC at L29. There was no evidence of negative effects of the live-weight gain treatments on udder development of yearling ewes as measured by ultrasonography. The results suggest that this ultrasound method has the potential to identify pregnant yearling ewes which would wean heavier singletons.
ewe lamb, gland cistern, parenchyma, ultrasonography, ewe hogget
ANIMALS, 2021, 11 (3)