CAN shearing pregnant ewes boost the birthweight of lambs?
Perhaps so, according to Department of Primary Industry's prime lamb researcher Nick Linden.
Researchers at the Chiltern Evergraze producer demonstration site, investigating rotational grazing and fertiliser applications on native pastures, found that the birthweights of lambs varied considerably between ewes shorn prior to joining and those shorn during their pregnancy.
All ewes at the site were CentrePlus Merinos, joined to White Suffolks.
A new line of ewes was purchased in September 2010 (now four and five years old) to complement the existing six-year-old ewes.
All ewes were joined as a single group in the first week of February last year, for July lambing.
The new ewes were shorn in mid-August 2010 just prior to delivery and joining, and existing ewes were shorn late April, in mid-pregnancy, about 80 days from start of joining.
Researchers observed a trend whereby the older ewes, shorn in mid-pregnancy, had heavier lamb birthweights.