Madani MO, Rahal MS, Zawia MT, Eluwhaishi BA.
Br Vet J. 1989 May-Jun;145(3):276-88.
Puberty and early sexual development were studied in 143 Libyan fat-tailed ram lambs, equally representing Brownhead and Blackhead strains of this breed. The two strains did not differ in any of the measured parameters in a consistent way, yet the Brownhead lambs tended to be slightly heavier and to have a slightly larger testis diameter than Blackheads. At the commencement of the observations when the lambs were 69 days old, 25.2% had fully descended testes at a significantly higher (P less than 0.01) mean (SD) body weight (24.1 +/- 4.1 kg) than those with partly descended (69.2%, 15.7 +/- 6.3 kg) or with non-descended testes (5.6%, 19.5 +/- 3.2 kg). Testes development followed a triphasic pattern with an initial and a final phase of slow growth and a middle phase of fast growth, commencing at a weight of 24.5 kg and an age of 85 days and lasting until the weight of 36-43 kg and age of 180-200 days in both strains. The separation of penile adhesions commenced at a mean body weight and age of 33.6 +/- 3.7 kg and 125.5 +/- 27.4 days respectively and was completed at a mean weight and age of 38.3 +/- 4.2 kg and 153.4 +/- 29.9 days. Only four lambs failed to show complete penile separation. Age had little influence on testis descent or on penile development. Puberty was assessed in 71 lambs using sperm recovery following electroejaculation as an end point. Most of these lambs (92.9%) reached puberty at a mean (SD) age of 171.5 (39.9) days, mean body weight of 39.9 (9.3) kg, mean testis diameter of 4.1 (0.4) cm and mean horn length of 21.4 (3.7) cm. Puberal lambs were significantly superior to non-puberal lambs (P less than 0.01) in all these counts except for age which was similar in both categories. Direct testicular observation showed a strong correlation between testis diameter, testis weight, body weight, sperm concentration/g testis weight and to testis histology. Age was poorly correlated to testis weight, histology or sperm concentration. It is concluded that the body weight is a major determinant of puberty in this breed. It is also considered that the two strains of the breed are remarkably similar in the studied aspects of puberty and sexual development.
Keywords: Puberty and early sexual development in Libyan fat-tailed ram lambs.