As triplets require greater feeding in the lead up to lambing than those with fewer lambs and singles are at risk of oversized lambs if overfed, be sure to use the scan results to split up the flock into appropriate management groups. In addition, take consideration of ewe condition to achieve viable lamb weights, reduce lambing issues and minimise risk of twin lamb disease.
For example, you might choose to group the ewes as follows (in order of priority):
- Group 1) triplet- (or greater lamb number-) bearing ewes with lean twin-bearing ewes;
- Group 2) twin-bearing ewes on target condition;
- Group 3) fat twin-bearing ewes with single bearing ewes.
Grazing ewes should be managed to ensure –Group 1) get priority. In rotational grazing systems, this might mean they graze ahead of the other groups to get the pick of the grass. Under set stocking, aim to graze this high priority group on fields with over 6cm of grass and consider supplementary feeding where this is not possible to prevent condition loss. Utilise lower quality grazing land with the singles and fat twin-bearing ewes to reduce risk of oversized lambs and ensure the limited good quality grass goes to ewes with greater demand.
On forage crops, ewes carrying triplets are more susceptible to prolapses. Monitor the highest priority group and consider whether you need to take them off the crop. It is often better to be risk-adverse and put them on to less bulky nutrition such as grazed grass or good quality silage and hard feed. Singles should be taken off the crop if worried about feed supply or big lambs.
Generally, for those on silage-based rations in late pregnancy, concentrate feeding starts from 8 weeks pre-lambing (Group 1), 6 weeks pre-lambing (Group 2) and 4 weeks pre-lambing (Group 3).
Poppy Frater, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up to the FAS newsletter
Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service