Preparing sheep for breeding essential for future generations
As mating season approaches, producers are being told that optimising ram and ewe conditions is of the upmost importance.
According to Trident Feeds, this will maximise the prolificacy and impact the performance of next year’s lambs.
“Ewes are only half the picture when it comes to getting the best lambing performance and it’s important not to neglect the impact an unfit ram will have on lambing percentages,” said Bethany May, ruminant nutritionist at Trident Feeds.
“Therefore, it’s crucial to body condition score (BCS) rams before tupping starts. They need to be in good condition to produce enough viable semen, and its production begins up to six weeks prior to tupping, so producers should start evaluating now.”
A BCS of around 3.5 should be aimed for during tupping season. This will allow the animal to have enough fat to keep it going but not too much. Over-fat rams will get lazy and not be very effective during mating season.
“I’d suggest that rams with a BCS lower than 3.5 should be provided with a supplementary palatable feed such as sugar beet, six weeks prior to tupping, to improve their condition,” advised May.
Nutritional management of ewes during this important time of year is also something that should be accounted for, as it can encourage higher ovulation rates. It is recommended that ewes are flushed to encourage stronger heat expression, increased egg counts and higher conception rates.
“Ewes with a lower BCS will show the greatest immediate response to flushing, but it’s important to remember that the lower the BCS, the longer it will take to see the effects,” added May.
“It’s important not to leave pre-tupping nutrition of rams and ewes until it’s too late. Producers should start planning now to allow time to improve condition in order to obtain maximum performance at lambing.”
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