Optimising genetic potential for wool production and quality through maternal nutrition
This paper reviews the development of the wool follicle population with a view to the management of breeding ewes so as to optimise the genetic potential of the progeny for wool production and quality throughout their lifetime. It highlights the importance of the pre-weaning environment (i.e. maternal nutrition through pregnancy and lactation) on the initiation and maturation of the secondary follicle population and identifies the last third of pregnancy as the most critical period. The implications of this for the commercial wool producer are discussed in terms of matching the breeding cycle of the ewes to available pasture and provision of supplementary feed. Finally, it introduces a national project 'Lifetime Wool' funded by Australian Wool Innovation which aims to develop profitable ewe management guidelines for wool growers across Australia to adopt in order to optimise the genetic potential of their flock for wool production and quality.
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