The animal article of the month for December is ‘Energy and protein requirements of Santa Ines lambs, a breed of hair sheep‘.

The hair sheep plays an important role around the world, especially in developing countries. Hair sheep and their crossbreds are commonly used in meat production systems in tropical regions. They possess abilities to withstand hot and humid weather, tolerate intense sunshine and resist to parasites. Santa Ines, a breed of hair sheep, is used preferentially for meat production and is well adapted to extensive and semi-extensive farming. Although the majority of hair sheep are raised in semiarid ecosystems, the knowledge about feeding recommendations for sheep under tropical and warm regions are still largely based on standards established in temperate regions. In tropical conditions, the nutritional requirements recommended by international committees may not be adequate to meet the physiological needs at different stages of animal life. In addition, the potential effects of gender on energy and protein requirements have not been well established for hair sheep.

In this study, we determined energy and protein requirements for maintenance and gain for hair lambs. We used different feed levels in castrated and non-castrated males. We observed that requirements of energy and protein for maintenance and gain did not differ between castrated and non-castrated males. This finding can likely be attributed to the young age of the lambs used in this study, and greater differences in body composition and energy requirements may be seen mostly after mature weight. However, recommendations of energy and protein requirements for temperate climate based breeds were not suitable for our breeds. Thus, the use of recommendations based on international feeding systems has as a consequence nutrient wastage for hair sheep between 13 and 30 kg of body weight, since the amount of energy required for the maintenance of the hair lambs is approximately 15% lower than the values recommended by international committees.

The present study emphasizes the importance of updating nutrient requirements systems of international committees, and of including data obtained from studies with sheep breeds raised in tropical conditions, aiming the improvement of the productive efficiency of animals raised in such conditions.

This article is freely available for one month: ‘Energy and protein requirements of Santa Ines lambs, a breed of hair sheep‘.

Authors: E. S. Pereira, F. W. R. Lima, M. I. Marcondes, J. P. P. Rodrigues, A. C. N. Campos, L. P. Silva, L. R. Bezerra, M. W. F. Pereira and R. L. Oliveira

The animal Article of the Month is selected by the Editor-in-Chief and is freely available for one month. View the recent selections

Photos credit: Mikail Olinda de Oliveira

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