Sustainable lamb production: Evaluation of factors affecting lamb growth using hierarchical, cross classified and multiple memberships models

Publication date: Available online 10 November 2019Source: Preventive Veterinary MedicineAuthor(s): Eliana Lima, Fiona Lovatt, Martin Green, Janet Roden, Peers Davies, Jasmeet KalerAbstractIn light of current concerns about the sustainability of red meat production in a world with increasing global demand for food from animal origin there is a need for a better understanding of factors that influence the growth rate and feed conversion efficiency of animals on commercial farms. The primary objective of this observational study was to use longitudinal data to quantify the simultaneous effects of multiple ewe and lamb factors on lamb growth rate. A secondary aim was to evaluate model structures that specifically account for lamb grouping effects during the growth period and compare these to classical hierarchical growth rate models.A total of 4172 weight recordings from 805 lambs and data on disease events were collected over a 6-month period from a commercial pedigree sheep flock. Three mixed model structures were compared, hierarchical, cross classified and multiple membership, and final estimates determined within a Bayesian framework. The multiple membership structure provided the best model fit and was used for final inference; taking account of the effect of lamb grouping over time provided the best estimates of lamb growth rate.Ewe lameness and mastitis cases had a deleterious impact on lamb growth. Lambs from ewes identified with mastitis during lactation were on averag...
Source: Preventive Veterinary Medicine - Category: Veterinary Research Source Type: research

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