• Selenium Supplementation Increases Wool Growth and Reduces Faecal Egg Counts of Merino Weaners in a Selenium-Deficient Area

    This paper reports on the effects of selenium supplementation on liveweight (LW), greasy fleece weight (GFW), fibre diameter (FD), impact of parasite infection and plasma glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity in weaned Merino sheep reared in a selenium-deficient area (blood GSH-Px < 40 U/g Hb). At weaning, 208 Merino wethers were assigned to two groups: control (CTRL) and treatment (SEL). The SEL group was injected with 0.5 mL of Deposel, a slow release selenium injection. LW, blood and faecal samples were taken at 6-week intervals over a 24-week period. At the end of the trial the animals were shorn and GFW and FD measurements were taken. The SEL group had significantly higher (P < 0.01) LW compared with the CTRL group at Weeks 6, 12, 18 and 24. There was a significant difference (P < 0.05) in GFW between the SEL and CTRL group, 2.93 and 2.75 kg, respectively. There was no difference in FD between the two groups. A trend (P < 0.06) towards lower faecal egg counts in the SEL group was seen but the difference between the two groups was not significant. As expected, the SEL group had significantly (P < 0.001) higher plasma GSH-Px activity compared with the CTRL group. In conclusion, selenium supplementation in weaned Merino sheep reared in a selenium-deficient area could increase the LW and GFW of the young sheep while perhaps reducing the level of parasitic infection. more »
  • Consequences of Differing Wool Growth Rates on Staple Strength of Merino Wethers with Divergent Staple Strengths

    An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of dietary protein intake after a period of weight loss on the wool components of staple strength for sheep with a history of low or high staple strength (18.0 vs 34 Nlktex). After being fed to lose 15% of their liveweight over 10 weeks, sheep within each staple strength group were assigned in equal numbers to either a low or high protein diet designed to re-gain initial liveweight in 8 weeks. Liveweight, feed intakes and the growth, fibre diameter and fibre length characteristics of wool were measured at regular intervals. After the weight loss and growth regimes were imposed there was no difference in staple strength between the low and high staple strength groups (14.4 and 14.9 Nt ktex, respectively). However, coefficient of variation (CV) of fibre diameter remained significantly different between staple strength groups. Wool growth rate at the time of diet change was the only significant component of wool growth and fibre measurements that was significantly correlated with staple strength. Supplying a high protein diet after a period of weight loss increased wool growth. This changed the position of break along the staple and increased the fibre diameter at the point of break from 13.0 to 13.9 J.1m without affecting staple strength. It also increased fibre diameter and mean fibre length growth rate. The low staple strength group had a significantly higher CV of fibre length than the high staple strength group. Fibre length growth rate to fibre diameter ratio was stable over time in the high staple strength phenotype but declined with time in the low staple strength line. The results suggest that large weight losses will reduce the difference in staple strength between animals with a history of large difference in staple strength. Rate of wool growth after the point of break did not influence this staple strength outcome. more »
  • Effects of Exogenous Melatonin on Performance of Alpaca Fleece in Spring

    In order to study how MTL affecte alpaca fleece growth at the slowest growth period of fleece (2~5 month), 12 pregnant alpacas were injected melatonin (MLT) by 0、 50、100、150 mg from Feb to May. The results showed that MTL caused diameter and stretched length increased significantly. During the experiment the fleece growth rate in treated groups was increased significantly, but MTL had no effects on picking amount and percentage of scoured wool rate. Above all, MTL played a great role in increasing alpaca fleece growth and 100mg was the best dosage. more »
  • The Effect of Nutrition on Fibre Growth in the Alpaca

    Twelve adult male alpacas were given either 0·67 (low) or 2·0 (high) × assumed maintenance requirements for a period of 6 weeks after which time each was transferred to the alternative level of nutrition for a further 6 weeks. Fibre samples were taken from two 10-cm2 areas on the mid-side position of each animal at 2, 6, 8 and 12 weeks, and measurements of fibre weight, yield (clean fibre weight/raw fibre weight), fibre diameter and fibre length made on the samples collected at weeks 6 and 12. The higher level of feeding resulted in higher clean fibre weight (low = 0·42 (s.e. 0·03); high = 0·53 (s.e. 0·04)mg/cm2 per day, P < 0·001) and fibre growth rate (low = 186 (s.e. 10); high = 223 (s.e. 14) yon/day, P < 0·05). Changes in yield (low = 0·917 (s.e. 0·006); high = 0·929 (s.e. 0·009)) and mean fibre diameter (low = 31·4 (s.e. 1·9); high = 32·1 (s.e. 1.6) \xm) were not statistically significant. Calculations showed that the increased weight of fibre attributed to the higher level of nutrition could be explained in terms of the observed increases in fibre-length and diameter but that, unlike the sheep in which the ratio fibre length: diameter remains relatively constant under varying nutritional regimes, the effect of nutrition in the alpaca has a proportionally larger effect on fibre length than on fibre diameter. more »
  • Using ‘Fibre Growth Profiles’ to Monitor Fibre Follicle Development in Alpacas

    While many alpaca breeders have incorporated objective fibre measurement into their herd management strategies, ‘Fibre Growth Profiles’ are becoming popular for monitoring pre and post natal nutrition, particularly during the critical period of secondary follicle development in unborn crias. ‘Fibre Growth Profiles’ are linear graphs depicting variation in diameter along the fibres. This allows alpaca breeders to track nutritional intake of both the pregnant female and the cria in order to manage the development of secondary follicles, and thereby maximise potential for fibre density, fleece weight and fibre diameter. more »