Know the score

6 August 2018

Sheep examination can help to maximise your productivity 

A new technical note illustrates how to perform the simple physical examination, the results of which allow farmers to adjust management and nutrition to maximise productivity and reduce health problems.

Particularly useful on hill farms, using the technique can lead to a higher lambing and rearing percentage as well as increase milk yields.

The technical note includes diagrams showing how farmers can measure fat and muscle by feeling a sheep’s back.

Body condition scoring at weaning or, at the latest, eight weeks before tupping, is vital. At this time, condition can be greatly improved with separating ewes and offering the best nutrition available, but hill ewes should be weaned in good time as grass quality deteriorates quickly during the autumn.

Kirsten Williams, who co-wrote the technical note, said: “Flocks are often made up of different breeds which have varying frame sizes, fleece covers and genetics, and sheep may have gut fill or a full fleece. It’s therefore very difficult to assess the body reserves of a mature sheep visually.

“Physically handling the sheep at key timings throughout the year allows flock managers to alter management and nutrition depending on the body reserves of the sheep.”

To read the technical note, click here.

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