Original Articles

Merino sheep responses to different stocking rates and seasonal variation under rangeland conditions of Lesotho


Abstract

Merino sheep responses to stocking rates were determined over a one-year period. The experimental design consisted of three stocking rates; light (2.0ha LSU-1), moderate (1.25ha LSU-1) and heavy (0.5ha LSU-1) in a Randomised Complete Block Design with three replicates per treatment. Data collected were live weight, grease fleece weight, staple length, fibre diameter and crimp frequency from ewes, and birth weight, growth rate, weaning weight and percent mortality from lambs. Ewes in the heavy stocking rate had significantly (P<0.05) lower final weight, grease fleece weight and fleece length than those in moderate and light stocking rates. Lambs in the heavy stocking rate had significantly (P<0.05) lower birth weight and weaning weight, but higher mortality than those in moderate and light stocking rates. It is concluded that heavy stocking rate significantly reduced ewe and lamb performances.

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