Summary. Testis diameter and body weight were recorded from 6 to 76 weeks of age in ram lambs from two established lines selected for high (H) and low (L) testis size. While testis growth was greater in the H line up to 14 weeks of age (P <0·001), body weight was significantly lower, with the L line rams being 10 kg heavier by 76 weeks. There were no differences in plasma LH up to 20 weeks of age, but FSH concentrations were significantly lower at 14 and 20 weeks in the H line. Testosterone concentrations were not significantly higher in the H line from 6 to 20 weeks. In lambs castrated at birth, significantly higher FSH values were recorded from 6 to 20 weeks of age in the H line (P <0·001) whereas there was no difference in LH concentration at 6 and 10 weeks of age between the lines. At 14 and 20 weeks, however, the concentrations of LH were greater in the H than L line lambs (P <0·05). After hemicastration at 6 weeks of age, the rate of growth of the remaining testis in the L line lambs was significantly faster than in entire lambs of that line from 10 to 20 weeks (P <0·05 at 10 weeks to P <0·001 at 20 weeks). There was no difference in the rate of testis growth between the entire and hemicastrated lambs from the H line from 6 to 12 weeks of age.
It can be concluded that there is an underlying genetic difference in pituitary gland and/or hypothalamic activity in ram lambs from the two selected lines.