Achievement of lamb growth targets starts with the right preparations ahead of lambing. What happens from scanning through to the first four to six weeks of ewe and lamb nutrition has a huge influence on lamb daily live weight gain (DLWG) and how quickly they can leave the farm.
In episode 3 of Wynnstay Agri-Hub podcast, season 2, I was joined by youngstock specialist Laura Monk and national beef and sheep specialist Bryn Hughes to look ahead to prepare for the upcoming lambing season. We talked through the critical stages which influence lamb success, starting with ewe nutrition during pregnancy.
The nutrition of the ewe is key in achieving an optimum body condition score (BCS) at tupping, ensuring high levels of fertility, and a maximum lamb crop next season. It can take up to 6 weeks to increase a ewes BCS by one point, therefore it is important to act sooner rather than later.
Two thirds of all joint ill cases are caused by the bacteria Streptococcus Dysgalactiae – the same bacteria that causes mastitis in cows. The other third of cases are preventable through adequate colostrum uptake.
In mid-season lambing flocks, the aim is to get lambs to 32 to 42kg as soon as possible, capitalising on early feed conversion efficiency (FCE). Investing in early nutrition to capitalise on this early growth potential will pay dividends.
With the fortnight of Eid celebrations commencing in mid-July, those who lambed early to mid-March need to get lambs finished quickly to ensure they don’t miss market opportunities.
Practical management at tupping has a beneficial impact on both the profitability and practicalities at lambing. Effective and reliable marking lets you know which ewes have been tupped, by which ram and when!
Grazing alone cannot always be relied upon to maximise ewe and ram fertility. We should not be complacent about mineral and trace element deficiencies pre-tupping, which is an important time of the flock reproduction cycle.
Elevated energy demands placed on pregnant ewes in late gestation mean sheep can lose condition and suffer from twin lamb disease. This produces ketones as fat reserves are used as an energy source as opposed to glucose in the bloodstream.