Stimulation of wool growth by thyroxine implantation. I. Liveweight changes and wool growth of fine-wool Merino wethers
Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
15(4) 657 - 675
Groups of 20 and 30 fine-wool Merino wethers were treated with L-thyroxine and their subsequent liveweight changes and wool production studied under a variety of grazing conditions for a year.
Treatments comprised :
These groups were grazed with untreated wethers on improved native pastures at one to two sheep per acre.
After every implantation there was a loss of 5–10 lb liveweight — more pronounced and more prolonged in the wethers given greater amounts of thyroxine, and more prolonged in those at lower levels of nutrition. Deaths occurred in several groups, increasing with dose rate or with poorer nutrition up to 30–50% of the group.
Wool growth was not increased significantly by repeated 60 mg implants at the lowest level of nutrition, nor by the single 60 mg implant in late spring. Increases of 34% in annual fleece weight resulted from 60 mg implants in autumn and summer. Repeated implantation of 30, 60, and 90 mg in groups on a medium or high plane of nutrition increased annual fleece weight by 8, 14, and 19%, and 7 mg injected weekly by 11%.
Increases in fleece weight were due partly to increased fibre length, and partly to an increase in grease and suint which reduced the clean scoured yield by 1–2%.
It is concluded that line-wool Merinos, despite their lower body weight and greater specialization for wool production, react to thyroxine treatment in the same way as has been established for "dual-purpose" sheep. The safe maximum dose rate is critically dependent on the current level of nutrition, particularly for young sheep. Repeated implantations without adequate opportunity for recovery of catabolized body tissues may produce no increase in wool growth and may cause death.
Full text doi:10.1071/AR9640657
© CSIRO 1964