Bio-economic modelling of sheep meat production systems with varying flock litter size using field data
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CitationL. Farrell, P. Creighton, A. Bohan, F. McGovern, N. McHugh, Bio-economic modelling of sheep meat production systems with varying flock litter size using field data, animal, Volume 16, Issue 10, 2022, 100640, ISSN 1751-7311, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.animal.2022.100640.
AbstractSheep meat producers derive the majority of income from sales of weaned lambs, determined by flock conception rates, litter size, and lamb survival. Field data from commercial flocks can inform sensitivity analyses of the effect of litter size on flock productivity, feed demand, and gross margin. This study adapted an established bio-economic model of a flock of breeding ewes informed by statistical relationships (from linear models) between flock litter size (lambs born per ewe lambing) and production factors (such as flock barren rate, litter birth type and lamb birth weight) identified using 156 145 animal records from the Irish national sheep breeding database. Sensitivity analyses were undertaken to investigate the effects of flock litter size on flock production, feed demand, and gross margin. Results showed that as flock litter size increased, the proportion of lambs born as multiples increased, with 14 % of lambs born as singles when flock litter size was 2.2 lambs born per ewe lambing. Flock gross margin increased from €2 205 to €7 730 as litter size increased from 1.0 to 2.0 lambs born per ewe lambing. As litter size increased from 1.0 to 2.2 lambs born per ewe lambing, flock gross margin increased linearly by, on average, €52 per 0.01 increase in litter size. At a litter size of > 2.2 lambs born per ewe lambing, flock gross margin increased on average €12 per 0.01 increase in litter size. At a litter size of 2.2 lambs born per ewe lambing, flock efficiency (at 65.0 kg of lamb weaned per ewe presented for breeding), weaning rate (at 1.5 lambs weaned per ewe presented for breeding; not including excess lambs from large litters sold within a week after birth and thus not weaned on-farm), and gross margin (at €8 500) began to plateau. The results indicate lower marginal returns in gross margin at very high flock litter size, due to the lower value of additional lambs born as triplets and quadruplets compared with single- and twin-born lambs. However, the diminishing economic returns occurred at higher flock litter size than are currently biologically achieved in most flocks. Quantification from this analysis demonstrates how the value of increasing the number of lambs born changes at very high flock litter size, which can inform the priorities and performance benchmarking for international sheep meat production industries.
FunderIrish Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; European Union ERA-GAS
Grant Number16/S/696 Multipro; 2019EN202; GrassToGas
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of The Animal Consortium.