Conditioning to Maximise Productivity

September 28, 2017

Managing the condition of ewes pre and post tupping is essential for maximising productivity within the flock.

Maintaining the correct body condition score of the ewe at tupping will aid the results shown through an increased lambing percentage, reduce barren ewes and result in a more compact lambing. To maximise production and efficiency you should be aiming to reach 90% of the whole flock at the correct condition score. Ewes which are under conditioned have a decreased ovulation rate in comparison to the target condition. The target condition for ewes at tupping varies depending on farm type as shown in the table. Body condition score can also be affected by breed, time of year and ewe prolificacy.

Farm Type

Tupping

Mid-pregnancy

Lowland

3.5

3

Upland

3

2.5

Hill

2.5

2

Key scores from tupping to lambing:

  • No breeding ewe should be in BSC less than 2.

  • Ewes in BSC 2.5-3.5 will provide optimum production and profitability.

  • Ewes that are too thin (<2.5) will have poor production, increased risk of mortality and poor reproduction.

  • Ewes that are too fat (>3.5) will have good production but stocking rate will be compromised which has a direct impact on profitability.

As of the recent weather conditions and many cuts of silage taken late on farm, this may have a knock on affect for grass availability. This in turn can result in reduced intakes, which are essential for ewes at this key point in the farming calendar. Supplementation of the ewe at the flushing period may have to be considered to ensure the stronger heat expression and an increased number of eggs to be ovulated. Flushing of the ewe prior to tupping is essential to aid the increase of ovulation rates, results have shown that flushing only improves ovulation for ewes of a body condition score of 2-3.5 providing more emphasis on maintaining the ideal body condition score.

Ewes below the target condition at tupping are in need of supplementation to maintain nutritional requirements. Moving forward to mid-pregnancy, under conditioned ewes need to be allowed to gain condition, but no more than a 0.5 of a condition score. Ensuring the correct management of condition of the ewe is key to success and improved profitability.

Sam Hodgson

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