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Overfat Ewes

28 January 2020

We are seeing a lot of fat ewes again this winter.  Although this is better than lean ewes, it leads us to worry about the implications for prolapses this lambing season.

What can you do now if ewes are overfat:

  1. Condition Score: If you are struggling to feel the short ribs and vertebrae, they are too fat!  The fat ewes should be split from the main flock and stocked tighter and/or put on poorer quality fields.  After scanning, fat twins can be put with singles for management purposes.  It is a fine balance however, losing too much condition at this time will affect lamb survival, we are really trying to avoid them getting any fatter rather than trying to slim them down.
  2. The fat ewes with multiples are highest risk of prolapse, therefore avoid anything else that increases this risk such as feeding root crops, grazing steep fields or poor quality silage.
  3. Promote exercise.  Put feeders at the top of the field, stock lambing pens lighter, treat lame ewes – remove the challenges they may have that discourages their movement and consider how you might get them fit for lambing time.

If this is a recurring issue, winter planning 2020-21 should seek to resolve this.  This starts with condition scoring at weaning and dealing with fat ewes then.  Through pregnancy, the emphasis is on maintaining or gaining condition for lambing success – we really don’t want to put them under too much additional nutritional strain if we can help it.

Poppy Frater,

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