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Onset of Spermatogenesis in Corriedale Ram Lambs under Extensive Rearing Conditions in Uruguay


The present study was undertaken to estimate the time for the attainment of spermatogenesis in spring-born Corriedale ram lambs under conditions of extensive grazing systems in Uruguay. Clinical (live weight, scrotal circumference, penile/preputial separation), morphologi-cal(light and electron microscopy) and endocrinological (testosterone levels) parameters were examined. Two experiments in 2 consecutive years were carried out. In Exp. I, 40 ram lambs were clinically examined, weighed, and blood-sampled at 2 week-intervals between 78 and 216 days of age. Sixteeen were castrated in 3 selected periods: 132-162 (n: 2), 145–175 (n: 6) and 186–216 days (n: 8). In Exp. II, 40 ram lambs appertaining to the next generation of the same flock were examined as above at 180–210 days of age, and castrated for morphological studies. The time for attainment of complete spermatogenesis correlated significantly with most corporal parameters (i.e. scrotal circumference (r = 0.52); testicular weight (r = 0.61), epididymal weight (r = 0.60), penile/preputial separation (r = 0.75). The age of castrated ram lambs correlated with the degree of spermatogenesis (r = 0.83), although no significant correlations were found with live weight or with levels of circulating testosterone. The histology showed major variations in the degree of development of the seminiferous epithelium. Cells undergoing degeneration were a common finding through the initial stages of spermatogenesis, coincident to the presence of sperm abnormalities and foreign cells in semen. By day 180 and onwards, both histology and seminal picture normalized. It is concluded that, under these rearing conditions, the onset of puberty (expressed as morphologically established spermatogenesis) in Corriedale ram lambs is attained at 180-216 days of age when they reach 23 cm of scrotal circumference and 191 g of testis weight. The finding of a high correlation between these parameters (r: 0.93) confirms the usefulness of the measurement of scrotal circumference during clinical examination of ram lambs in this breed.


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The authors wish to thank Mrs. M. Ekwall for excellent technical assistance with the processing for electron microscopy. Partial financial support, was received by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Swedish Council for Forestry and Agricultural Research and the Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries (SAREC).

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Castrillejo, A., Moraha, A., Bielli, A. et al. Onset of Spermatogenesis in Corriedale Ram Lambs under Extensive Rearing Conditions in Uruguay. Acta Vet Scand 36, 161–173 (1995).

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