Document Type : Original Article
Department of Animal Production, Faculty of Agriculture, Menoufia University, Egypt
Department of Animal and Poultry Production, Desert Research Center, Cairo, Egypt
Ninety-six Barki ewes in second parities, aging about two years were chosen before the mating season and randomly assigned to six groups in a 2 x 3 factorial design to examine effects of ewes body weight (30kg as light ewes; L and 40kg as heavy ewes; H) and concentrate feeding frequency (once, 1X; twice, 2X and thrice, 3X) on the productive and reproductive performance of ewes and their offspring. The experimental period represents the reproductive and productive cycle of the ewe i.e., mating, gestation and lactation periods. Animals in the experimental groups were housed and fed separately in 6 pens and each treatment was fed in group. Results illustrated that the heaviest ewes digested all nutrients better than the lighter ewes leading to significantly higher feeding values. The increased frequent feeding lead to better digestibility of CF and NFE; no differences were reported for other nutrients. Heavy weight ewes digested all nutrients better with one time feeding than the two or three times. Nutritive value was higher with heavy ewe than lighter ones. Nutritive value as TDN and DCP were not improved by concentrate feeding frequency. Values of rumen liquor pH were decreased with more frequent feeding. Feeding the experimental ration more frequently lead to an increase in VFA production than feeding once. The heavy weight ewes had more VFA than the lighter ones with all frequent feeding. Heavy ewes produced significantly more milk yield than the light once. Fat corrected milk followed the same trend. No differences were reported for milk composition%. Feeding more frequently increased milk yield and fat corrected milk; milk energy / NEL intake and milk protein/ CP intake followed the adverse trend. The light ewes reported better feed conversion than the heavy weight ewes. Feeding frequency did not affect production efficiency as well as feed conversion. During the dry period the heavy weight ewes had less dry matter intake (DMI), digestible crude protein intake (DCPI), metabolizable energy (ME) and net energy for maintenance (NEm). While, during the early gestation period no differences were found regarding the above mentioned criteria. With increasing feeding frequency in dry period, the average body weight was significantly increased; DCPI, ME and NEm followed the same trend. Also during early gestation period the above mentioned criteria followed the similar trend. DCPI was more during the early gestation than dry-period. During the suckling period, DCPI followed the opposite trend being better with heavy ewes than light ones with all feeding frequency.