Elevated intakes of protein and energy may increase embryo mortality, but it is not clear whether fresh lucerne (Medicago sativa) pasture poses a risk. A two-year pen study using oestrous synchronised and artificially inseminated Merino ewes (n= 175 in 2013 and 215 in 2014) evaluated whether feeding freshly cut lucerne pasture (mean crude protein 19.7%, metabolisable energy 9.4. MJ/kg DM) at maintenance or ad libitum during different periods around insemination altered reproductive performance in comparison with ewes fed a Control diet (mean crude protein 7.8%, metabolisable energy 9.0. MJ/kg DM) of pelleted faba bean hulls and oat grain hulls at maintenance. The proportion of pregnant ewes carrying multiple fetuses was reduced (P= 0.026) when ewes were fed lucerne ad libitum between days 0 and 17 after insemination compared with the Control diet (0.18 and 0.34, respectively), but not when ewes were fed lucerne ad libitum between days 0 and 7 after insemination (0.22). Reproductive performance, including the proportion of ewes pregnant and the proportion with multiple fetuses, was not different (P>. 0.05) when ewes were fed lucerne at maintenance between days 0 and 7 compared with the Control diet. While reproductive performance was similar when ewes were fed lucerne at maintenance between 0 and 17 days after artificial insemination compared with pellets at maintenance, fetal numbers per pregnant ewe were reduced by feeding lucerne ad libitum after insemination.
- Embryo survival