R. Bras. Zootec.. 01/Sep/2016;45(9):546-53.
Performance and serum cortisol concentration in Santa Inês lambs under different suckling schemes
The objective of this study was to examine the effects of suckling schemes (continued, controlled, and total separation) and the type of pregnancy on performance and serum cortisol concentration in lambs. A total of 29 Santa Inês ewes and 40 lambs were used, and the randomized block design was applied in a split-plot scheme with a 3 × 2 factorial arrangement in the plot and time in the subplot. For controlled suckling, the diet was supplied twice daily during one hour, starting on their 10th day of life. Total and average daily intakes of concentrate dry matter of lambs that underwent total separation was higher than those of lambs under continued suckling. Lambs subjected to total separation demonstrated higher concentrate dry matter intake/weight gain ratio, lower total weight gain, lower average daily weight gain, and lower weaning weight than those subjected to continued and controlled suckling. Lambs from single pregnancy demonstrated higher weight gain and obtained higher weight at weaning. Lambs subjected to total separation have a developmental delay. However, the lower performance of lambs subject to total separation cannot be attributed to stress because there is a decrease in the serum cortisol concentration over time.