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Body condition scoring vital to lamb percentages

6 October 2016

Getting rams and ewes in optimum condition before tupping commences is essential to maximise prolificacy and will ultimately 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,” says 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 this now,” she adds.

 A BCS of around 3.5 at tupping should be aimed for, enough fat to keep them going but not too much, as over-fat rams will be lazy and not work as hard to service all the ewes.

 “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,” explains Bethany.

 Having evaluated the condition of rams, producers should then consider nutritional management of ewes before and during tupping. Getting this right is crucial to getting them in lamb successfully and encouraging higher ovulation rates.

 In order to encourage stronger heat expression, an increased number of eggs to be ovulated and higher conception rates, Bethany recommends flushing ewes, by allowing them access to a high energy dense ration before mating.

“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,” she adds.

“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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