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Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals

Liveweight gain and wool growth in sheep fed rations containing virginiamycin

PJ Murray, JB Rowe, EM Aitchison and SG Winslow

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 32(8) 1037 - 1043
Published: 1992


The feed additive virginiamycin was evaluated for its potential to improve wool growth and liveweight gain in Merino sheep in 2 experiments. In the first experiment 84 wethers (about 10 months old) were housed individually and fed ad libitum a pelleted diet based on lucerne chaff, lupin, and barley grain. Control sheep (28) were fed an unmedicated diet, and 14 in each of 4 groups were given diets containing 10, 20, 40, or 60 mg virginiamycin/kg pellets. Virginiamycin was found to reduce feed intake during the first 4-5 weeks of the experiment when included at levels 220 g/t. There was a dose-related reduction in liveweight gain. There was no significant effect of virginiamycin on wool growth. In the second experiment, weaners and adults from 2 locations in Western Australia, Mount Barker (relatively high rainfall) and Wongan Hills (relatively low rainfall and shorter pasture-growing period), were housed individually in a shed and fed a pelleted diet at rates equivalent to 3.5 and 3.1%, respectively, of liveweight for weaners and adults. The pelleted ration was based on wheat and lucerne chaff, lupin grain, and fishmeal. Virginiamycin was included at 20 mg/kg pellets for 16 of 40 sheep of each age and location. The remaining sheep were fed the unmedicated diet. Feed conversion and liveweight gain improved (P<0.05) in response to the inclusion of virginiamycin during the first 4 weeks of the trial, but wool growth was reduced over the same period. Virginiamycin had no effect on fibre diameter in sheep in either experiment.

© CSIRO 1992

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