Recent reports of ewes (particularly hard hill ewes) in poor body condition after the conditions of 2018 are a concern. Thin ewes will struggle to meet the needs of the growing foetus. This nutritional stress will risk greater lamb death next year through reduced colostrum production, lighter lamb birth weights and poor ewe-lamb bonding. Adding condition to thinner ewes now will reap benefits in 2019 through greater foetus and lamb survival.
Buying in feed at the moment is a challenge but, for thin ewes, it will be money well spent. These feeds should be high in energy: good quality ingredients, such as maize, barley and wheat, should rank high on the list.
Alternatively, providing additional quality forage or better grazing to the lean ewes may be an option. Looking longer term, now is the time to train ewe lambs to eat hard feed so they will be more likely to eat when necessary later on in life.
Poppy Frater, firstname.lastname@example.org
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