Twenty-four Colombian Creole, Romney Marsh, Hampshire and Corriedale ewes raised under high-altitude conditions in a non-seasonal country were used to determine and to characterize the onset of puberty and of regularity ovarian function since the age of 3months. They underwent blood collection for determination of progesterone and monthly weight assessment. Oestrus was assessed daily by a teaser ram. In all breeds, age at onset of puberty ranged from 5.4 to 6.9 months and age at onset of regular ovarian function ranged from 7.4 to 8.6 months. Colombian Creole showed a higher body development at onset of puberty: 73.5 ± 8.3% versus 56.2 ± 7.4 in Romney Marsh, 58.8 ± 10.4 in Hampshire, and 57.3 ± 8.0 in Corriedale (p < 0.05), as well as a higher relative daily weight gain (+17%, p < 0.05). A negative correlation between daily weight gain and age at onset of puberty was established. Progesterone at onset of puberty and of regularity did not differ between breeds, but characterization of the luteal phase by the progesterone area under the curve (P4-AUC) revealed at both time points significantly lower values for Creole lambs (p < 0.05). Decreased P4-AUC paralleled a higher proportion of short oestral cycles observed prior to onset of regularity in Creoles, whereas an increased proportion of extra-long cycles were recorded in Romney Marsh (p < 0.05). These results establish first reference data for economically important breeds raised under tropical conditions. In comparison with other breeds, Colombian Creole requires a higher body development to achieve puberty and that an important proportion of short characterizes its prepubertal period cycles.
- Estrus cycle
- Weight gain