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Managing Highly Conditioned Ewes In Late Pregnancy

16 February 2022

After an exceptionally open winter, ewes may be in a high order of condition.  However, as pregnancy progresses, time has run out to manage these ladies to lose condition, as it can start to have a negative effect on lamb survival.  Instead, we can ensure they do not get fatter by managing them accordingly.  Ideally, at scanning, any ewes who are too fat should be managed separately or along with the scan result below them e.g. fat twins, manage with singles.  These would be a lower priority group who can be stocked tighter and offered poorer quality forage.

The fat ewes should be persuaded into exercising,

  • by putting feeders at the top of the field
  • moving troughs away from silage feeders or hay heks to encourage exercise between the two areas
  • by using an alternative route for the snacker
  • moving ewes to a field with a larger slope
  • delaying housing
  • removing challenges that deter exercise such as lame feet – treat to ensure ewes are fully mobile.

Fat ewes can be more susceptible to disorders such as prolapse and twin lamb disease.  Ewes should be monitored regularly for such disorders, which should be acted on immediately.  Be prepared for such problems and have a stock of twin lamb drench, glucose, prolapse spoons or harnesses ready.  As always prevention is better than cure, ensure the management and nutrition of the ewes is correct for late pregnancy and at this stage don’t attempt to make the fit ewes lose weight, supplying the correct energy and protein for the growing lamb, ewe and colostrum supply is the goal here.

Kirsten Williams,

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