Calm sheep ‘more likely to reproduce’

A recent study by researchers at the University of Western Australia has found calm temperaments in female sheep can improve the number of successful pregnancies.

In their paper Calm Merino ewes have a higher ovulation rate and more multiple pregnancies than nervous ewes researchers investigated the reproductive outcomes of 200 Merino ewes.

Associate Professor Dominique Blache from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment and Institute of Agriculture, who was the lead researcher on the project, said temperament affected ovulation rate, not the occurrence of ovulation.

“Differences in reproductive outcomes between the calm and nervous ewes were mainly due to a higher ovulation rate in calm ewes,” he said.

“Even when the ovulation rate is maintained, some of the nervous ewes have problems in maintaining their pregnancy possibly because of the quality of the eggs and subsequent embryos”.

Researchers said understanding the different reproductive outcomes of ewes would improve their welfare and assist in more suitable breeding methods.