If ewes are leaner following the extended winter/late spring and grass growth continues to be limited (<4 cm), offer the lambs creep feed to take the pressure of the ewe, reducing the competition for grass and the amount of milk the ewe needs to produce, which will in turn allow her to gain some condition. In addition the creep feeding will allow the lambs to continue to thrive and achieve good growth rates.
A condition score is 12% of liveweight (e.g. gaining one unit of condition score in a 70 kg ewe would be 8.4 kg), this condition does not happen over night, it requires management and planning. As a reminder the suggested condition score targets are shown below (these will differ with the range of breed, types and systems of sheep enterprises practiced in Scotland)
Investing in creep feed can start the process of regaining weight in the ewes before the next breeding year starts. This is especially relevant for young sheep nursing lambs and ewes rearing multiples.
Ewe hoggs who have lambed this year require to be 80% of their mature weight, by their second mating. Many ewe hoggs rearing lambs have had a difficult winter and spring, they have had to endure extra maintenance from the poor weather, grow, mature and produce milk. In a lot of cases her growth will have suffered, with extra maintenance being required. It is essential these sheep are now managed to ensure they reach the growth target before tupping of 80% of their mature weight.
Kirsten Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
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