In the last six weeks of pregnancy, the lambs grow 70% of their birth weight while the ewe is also starting to make colostrum and have enough energy for maintenance. Offering tailored nutrition in the six weeks pre lambing, in the form of excellent quality ingredients is hugely important. If purchasing concentrates to supplement forage, look at the ingredients in the mix, prior to buying. Look for high quality energy and protein sources to be listed at the start of the list (listed in order of inclusion) e.g. cereals, soya, etc. Poor quality ingredients would include oat feed, wheat feed, etc.
Condition scoring ewes at scanning is a hugely beneficial practice, and then splitting into management groups on scan result and condition, allowing you to feed to gain condition if they are lean.
Boosters for clostridial and pasturella should be given 4-6 weeks pre lambing, to control disease (dysentery, pulpy kidney, tetanus, pasteurellosis) in lambs provided that the lambs receive sufficient colostrum in the first 24 hours of birth. When vaccinating ewes, look at raddle marks, to ensure late tupped ewes are not receiving their booster too early.
Check for general health in the ewes e.g. feet problems, eye disorders, ensuring these are treated prior to housing or creating heavily traffic areas e.g. troughs.
Allow these fields a rest to provide an early bite of grass for the lambing ewes, ideally a rest period of 90-100 days should be provided over the winter period. However, April and May lambers might choose to graze in March to remove the winter dormant material and improve quality for lambing time.
Allow for maintenance of troughs, lighting, feeders, etc. prior to housing. Disinfect all equipment and construct lambing pens. Think about trough and laying space for the ewes when deciding on numbers to house. As a guide a 70 kg ewe requires 50 cm tough space and space of 1.2 – 1.4 m2 pre lambing, and 1.4 – 1.8 m2 post lambing.
Kirsten Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
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