Productivity and Grazing Behavior of Ewes with Single or Twin Lambs Raised in Mixed Italian Ryegrass/White Clover Pasture in Southern Brazil


The aim of this study was to compare the area production and grazing behavior of single- and twin-rearing ewes kept on a mixed Italian ryegrass/white clover pasture. The herbage allowance was maintained at 12 kg DM/100kg live weight during the experiment, by continuous variable stocking management for 112 days (4 periods of 28 days). We measure the live weight gains, the area production and the body condition score of ewes and lambs. Animal behavior was observed on four occasions during which we evaluated whether the lambs were grazing near to or far from their mother. Live-weight output from the ewes and lambs, and net output (ewes and lambs) were calculated. Results showed that being irrespective of birth type, ewes had similar mean daily weight gains, although ewes with twin lambs presented a mean lower body condition score. Ewes live weight output/ha did not differ significantly among birth types, but twin lambs produced 98.2 kg (45%) more live weight gain/ha. Total net live-weight output (ewes + lambs) was 121.5 kg greater for twins than for singles. Ewes with twin lambs spent more time grazing and ruminating. Lambs increased the time they spent grazing in each successive period. Single lambs spent significantly longer time grazing within 12 m of their dams (near grazing). Analysis of far grazing times by the broken line method showed that growing lambs rapidly increase the time spent far grazing up to a live weight of 20.3 kg in both birth types, which occurs at 95.3 and 115.9 days of age for single and twins, respectively. The results indicate that twin lambs are more productive than singles, when evaluated per area unit of pasture.

Share and Cite:

Jochims, F. , Pires, C. , Gibb, M. , Azevedo, E. , de David, D. and Soares, É. (2014) Productivity and Grazing Behavior of Ewes with Single or Twin Lambs Raised in Mixed Italian Ryegrass/White Clover Pasture in Southern Brazil. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 5, 963-974. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2014.57109.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Anuário da Pecuária Brasileira—ANUALPEC. (2011) São Paulo: Instituto FNP.
[2] Allen, V.G., Batello, C., Berretta, E.J., Hodgson, J., Kothmann, M. and Li, X. (2011) An International Terminology for Grazing Lands and Grazing Animals. Grass Forage Science, 66, 2-28.
[3] Bandinelli, D.G., Gatiboni, L.C., Trindade, J.P.P., Quadros, F.L.F., Kaminski, J., Flores, J.P.C., et al. (2005) Composição florística da pastagem natural afetada por fontes de fósforo, calagem e introdução de espécies forrageiras de estação fria. Ciência Rural, 35, 84-91.
[4] Moojen, E.L. and Maraschin, G.E. (2002) Potencial produtivo de uma pastagem nativa do Rio Grande do Sul submetida a níveis de oferta de forragem. Ciência Rural, 32, 127-132.
[5] Carneiro, R.M., Pires, C.C., Muller, L., Kippert, C.J., Costa M.L., Colome, L.M., et al. (2004) Ganho de peso e eficiência alimentar de cordeiros de parto simples e duplo desmamados aos 63 dias de idade e não desmamados. Revista Brasileira de Agrociência, 10, 227-230.
[6] Pires, C.C., Carneiro, R.M., Muller, L., Souza, J.H.S., Cardoso, A.R., Neto, D.P., et al. (2006) Avaliação de carcaças e componentes do peso vivo de cordeiros de parto simples desmamados, parto simples não desmamados e parto duplo desmamados. Revista Brasileira de Agrociência, 12, 93-97.
[7] Pires, C.C., Muller, L., Griebler, L., Hastenpflug, M., Wommer, T. and Carvalho, S. (2012) Produção, qualidade do leite e desempenho de cordeiros de partos simples e duplo em pastagem de azevém. Zootecnia Tropical, 30.
[8] Rattray, P.V., Thompson, K.F. and Hawker, H. (2007) Pastures for Sheep Production. In: Nicol, A.M., Ed., Livestock Feeding on Pasture, New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Hamilton, 89-104.
[9] Maxwell, T.J., Doney, J.M., Milne, J.A., Peart, J.N., Russel, A.J.F., Sibbald, A.R., et al. (1979) The Effect of Rearing Type and Prepartum Nutrition on the Intake and Performance of Lactating Greyface Ewes at Pasture. Journal of Agricultural Science, 92, 165-174.
[10] Moreno, J.A. (1961) Clima do Rio Grande do Sul. Porto Alegre: Secretaria da Agricultura, 41p.
[11] Wilm, H.G., Costelo, O.F. and Klippe, G.E. (1944) Estimating Forage Yield by the Double Sampling Method. Journal American Society of Agronomy, 36, 194-203.
[12] Klingman, D.L., Miles, S.R. and Mott, G.O. (1943) The Cage Method for Determining Consumption and Yield of Pasture Herbage. Journal of American Society Agronomic, Geneva, 35, 739-746.
[13] Euclides, V.P.B., Macedo, M.C.M. and Oliveira, M.P. (1992) Avaliação de diferentes métodos de amostragens sob pastejo. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, Viçosa, 21, 691-702.
[14] AOAC (1960) Official Methods of Analysis. 10th Edition, Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Washington DC.
[15] AOAC (1975) Official Methods of Analysis. 12th Edition, Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Washington DC.
[16] Tilley, J.M.A. and Terry, R.A. (1963) A Two-Stage Technique for the in Vitro Digestion of Forage Crop. Grass and Forage Science, 18, 104-111.
[17] Robertson, J.B. and Van Soest, P.J. (1981) The Detergent System of Analysis. In: James, W.P.T. and Theander, O., Eds., The Analysis of Dietary Fiber in Food, Marcel Dekker, New York, Chapter 9, 123-158.
[18] Russel, J. F., Doney M. and Gunn, R. (1969) Subjective Assessment of Body Fat in Live Sheep. Journal Agricultural Science, 72, 451-454.
[19] Gary, L.A., Sherritt, G.W. and Hale, E.B. (1970) Behavior of Charolais Cattle on Pasture. Journal of Animal Science, 30, 303-306.
[20] Hancock, J. (1953) Grazing Behaviour of Cattle. Animal Breeding Abstract, Farnham Royal, 21, 1-13.
[21] Forbes, T.D.A. (1988) Researching the Plant-Animal Interface: The Investigation of Ingestive Behavior in Grazing Animals. Journal of Animal Science, 66, 2369-2379.
[22] Fisher, A. and Matthews, L. (2001) The Social Behaviour of Sheep. In: Keeling, L., Ed., Social Behaviour in Farm Animals, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara, 211-245.
[23] Lindenberg, A.C. (2001) Group Life. In: Keeling, L.J. and Gonyou, H.W. (Eds.), Social Behaviour in Farm Animals, CAB International, Wallingford, 37-59
[24] Azevedo, E.B. (2011) Consumo e utilização de nutrientes por ovinos em pastagem de azevem annual. Doctoral Thesis, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, 345p.
[25] Rutter, S.M. (2006) Diet Preference for Grass and Legumes in Free-Ranging Domestic Sheep and Cattle: Current Theory and Future Application. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 97, 17-35.
[26] Greenhalgh, J.F.D., Reid, G.W. and McDonald, I. (1966) The Indirect Estimation of the Digestibility of Pasture Herbage. IV. Regressions of Digestibility of Faecal Nitrogen Concentration: Effects of Different Fractions of the Herbage Upon within-and between Period Regressions. Journal of Agricultural Science, 66, 277-283.
[27] Jamieson, W.S. and Hodgson, J. (1979) The Effect of Variation in Sward Characteristics upon the Ingestive Behavior and Herbage Intake of Calves and Lambs under Continuous Stocking Management. Grass Forage Science, 34, 273-281.
[28] Peyraud, J.L., Comeron, E.A. and Wade, M.H. (1996) The Effect of Daily Herbage Allowance, Herbage Mass and Animal Factors upon Herbage Intake by Grazing Dairy Cows. Annales Zootechnie, 45, 201-217.
[29] Lemaire, G. and Chapman, D. (1996) Tissue Flows in Grazed Plant Communities. In: Hodgson, J. and Illius, A.W., Ed., The Ecology and Management of Grazing Systems, CAB, Wallingford, 3-36.
[30] Pires, C.C., Silva, L.F., Schlick, F.E., Guerra, D.P., Biscaino, G. and Carneiro, R.M. (2000) Cria e terminação de cordeiros confinados. Ciência Rural, 30, 875-880.
[31] Gibb, M.J. and Treacher, T.T. (1982) The Effect of Body Condition and Nutrition during Late Pregnancy on the Performance of Grazing Ewes during Lactation. Animal Production, 34, 123-129.
[32] Penning, P.D. and Gibb, M.J. (1979) The Effect of Milk Intake on the Intake of Cut and Grazed Herbage by Lambs. Animal Production, 29, 53-67.
[33] Gibb, M.J., Treacher, T.T. and Shanmugalingam, V.S. (1981) Herbage Intake and Performance of Grazing Ewes and of Their Lambs When Weaned at 6 8 10 or 14 Weeks of Age. Animal Production, 33, 223-232.
[34] Lynch, J.J., Keogh, R.G., Elwin, R.L., Green, G.C. and Motthershead, B.C. (1983) Effects of Early Experience on the Post-Weaning Acceptance of Whole Grain Wheat by Fine Wool Merino Lambs. Animal Production, 36, 175-183.
[35] Shackleton, D.M. and Haywood, J. (1985) Early Mother—Young Interactions in California Bighorn Sheep, Ovis Canadensis californiana. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 63, 868-875.
[36] Schichowski, C., Moors, E. and Gauly, M. (2008) Effects of Weaning Lambs in Two Stages or by Abrupt Separation on Their Behavior and Growth Rate. Journal of Animal Science, 86, 220-225.
[37] Jensen, P. (2002) Behaviour Genetics, Evolution and Domestication. In: Jensen, P., Ed., The Ethology of Domestic Animals, CABI Publishing, Wallingford, 13-30.
[38] Carvalho P.C.F., Trindade, J.K.; Mezalira, J.C., Poli, C.H.E.C., Nabinger, C., Genro, T.C.M. (2009) Do bocado ao pastoreio de precisão: Compreendendo a interface planta-animal para explorar a multi-funcionalidade das pastagens. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 38, 109-122.
[39] Orgeur, P., Mavric, N., Yvore, P., Bernard, S., Nowak, R., Schaal, B., et al. (1997) Artificial Weaning in Sheep: Consequences on Behavioural, Hormonal and Immuno-Pathological Indicators of Welfare. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 58, 87-103.
[40] Cupps, P.T. (1991) Reproduction in Domestic Animals. 4th Edition, Academic Press, San Diego, 670p.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.