Increasing reproductive rates in tropical sheep by means of embryo transfer
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One to three embryos were transferred to three groups each of 12 Kenya Merino ewes to establish if uterine capacity is a limiting factor to reproductive performance in this breed of sheep, in a tropical environment. A fourth group of 12 ewes received three embryos following superovulation. Multiple transfers increased the number of lambs born per pregnant ewe. However, although superovulation significantly (P<0.01) increased endogenous progesterone levels in Group 4 recipient ewes, it did not improve either their conception or lambing rates. Peri- and post-natal losses increased with the number of embryos trnasferred and with the litter size. Consequently, the same number of lambs were weaned per recipient ewe in all four groups. It is concluded that although the uterine capacity of the Kenyan Merino ewes is higher than their natural ovulation rates require, increasing the litter size will not necessarily increase the number of lambs weaned.