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Pen parameters for improving the performance of sheep imported from Australia to Persian Gulf feedlots

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Dundon, S. G. and Mayer, D. G. (2015) Pen parameters for improving the performance of sheep imported from Australia to Persian Gulf feedlots. Small Ruminant Research, 126 . pp. 16-25.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.smallrumres.2015.03.00...

Publisher URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921448815001066


Summer in the Persian Gulf region presents physiological challenges for Australian sheep that are part of the live export supply chain coming from the Australian winter. Many feedlots throughout the Gulf have very high numbers of animals during June to August in order to cater for the increased demand for religious festivals. From an animal welfare perspective it is important to understand the necessary requirements of feed and water trough allowances, and the amount of pen space required, to cope with exposure to these types of climatic conditions. This study addresses parameters that are pertinent to the wellbeing of animals arriving in the Persian Gulf all year round. Three experiments were conducted in a feedlot in the Persian Gulf between March 2010 and February 2012, totalling 44 replicate pens each with 60 or 100 sheep. The applied treatments covered animal densities, feed-bunk lengths and water trough lengths. Weights, carcass attributes and health status were the key recorded variables. Weight change results showed superior performance for animal densities of ≥1.2 m2/head during hot conditions (24-h average temperatures greater than 33 °C, or a diurnal range of around 29–37 °C). However the space allowance for animals can be decreased, with no demonstrated detrimental effect, to 0.6 m2/head under milder conditions. A feed-bunk length of ≥5 cm/head is needed, as 2 cm/head showed significantly poorer animal performance. When feeding at 90 ad libitum 10 cm/head was optimal, however under a maintenance feeding regime (1 kg/head/day) 5 cm/head was adequate. A minimum water trough allowance of 1 cm/head is required. However, this experiment was conducted during milder conditions, and it may well be expected that larger water trough lengths would be needed in hotter conditions. Carcass weights were determined mainly by weights at feedlot entry and subsequent weight gains, while dressing percentage was not significantly affected by any of the applied treatments. There was no demonstrated effect of any of the treatments on the number of animals that died, or were classified as unwell. However, across all the treatments, these animals lost significantly more weight than the healthy animals, so the above recommendations, which are aimed at maintaining weight, should also be applicable for good animal health and welfare. Therefore, best practice guidelines for managing Australian sheep in Persian Gulf feedlots in the hottest months (June–August) which present the greatest environmental and physical challenge is to allow feed-bunk length 5 cm/head on a maintenance-feeding program and 10 cm/head for 90 ad libitum feeding, and the space allowance per animal should be ≥1.2 m2/head. Water trough allocation should be at least 1 cm/head with provision for more in the summer when water intake potentially doubles.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:Animal density Feed-bunk Water trough Heat loads Persian Gulf Health Welfare
Subjects:Animal culture > Sheep > Meat production
Animal culture > Transportation
Live Archive:22 Sep 2015 23:09
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:50

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