The Role Of Live Weight

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This paper defines the role of live weight, liveweight change and condition score in monitoring the nutrition and performance of breeding ewes (including ewe lambs) in a pasture-based system.
Body condition scoring (BCS) is a subjective visual assessment of the level of fat or the level of body reserves on the sheep which is independent of liveweight. It is a management tool that can be used to assess its energy and nutritional status. Jefferies (1961) defined it on a scale of 5 points (1 very thin and 5 very fat) assessed by palpation of the lumbar region because the loin is the last part of the growing animal to put on fat and the first to lose it (Figure 1). Russel et al. (1969) further added to Jefferies work and showed that the BCS was more closely related to the chemical body fat composition than liveweight. Fat distribution however may differ between sheep breeds (Taylor et al., 1989) and comparison between breeds should be done with care. Generally, sheep breed for milk production will deposit more fat in internal depots whereas meat breeds deposit more in carcass depot (Frutos et al., 1995). In New Zealand, both meat and milk genetics has been used in the development of all purpose breeds.
Since body condition is a consequence of the level of nutrition, comparing the animals BCS with target values allows for decisions such as altering the plane of nutrition to be made.
Many of the productive parameters in a sheep enterprise are linked to its body condition score
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