Condition scoring is an essential tool to assess ewe’s body reserves and ensure your management and nutrition are adequate for their requirements throughout the breeding cycle. A condition score is 12% of body weight, meaning a 70kg ewe would need to gain 8.4kg to increase a condition score. This takes time and management, ensuring the ewe is in correct condition now, will help reduce problems at lambing time including poor colostrum/milk, lamb size, lamb survival, metabolic disorders, prolapse, etc.
Lean ewes have a higher appetite than fat ewes, this is up to 30% more. Time and management is required with these leaner ewes to ensure they are not overfeed on the run up to lambing, given their greater appetite, and the fact they will channel nutrient’s to their foetuses which can lead to large lambs and problems at birth.
Ewes housed or on brassica crops have the opportunity to get over fat, due to the high quality forage. Monitor the condition of these ewes and alter their management if they are gaining condition, by means of restricted silage intake or possibly offering straw 2 days out of 7. This restriction should be done gradually, as lambing approaches revert to a silage only diet.
Condition scoring at scanning gives you the time before lambing to alter your management to get the condition of the flock back on track.
Kirsten Williams, SAC Consulting Sheep Specialist
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