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PW1.3 Reproduction Series

Managing ewes for joining


Setting the time of joining for lambing is an important on-farm management decision for you. Where practical, aim to lamb about three to four months before the end of the growing season for a Merino breeding enterprise. In a pime lamb enterprise, a decision based on the most profitable compromise between ewes joined per hectare, likely reproduction rate and market price must be made.

The information in this Practical Wisdom note to the 'conception response calculator' can be found on the NSW DPI website by clicking here.

DownloadManaging ewes for joining (516 KB)

Managing ewes in late pregnancy


There are substantial penalties for not having ewes in good condition by lambing. Ewes that are below optimal condition at lambing may have a significant cost on the sheep enterprise through decreased lamb survival and progeny production. In wool flocks poorm ewe nutrition in late pregnancy influences lamb wool follicle development which adversely influences the amount and fiber diameter produced. The negative impact of under-feeding on profiitability is usually much larger than the cost of over-feeding the flock.

Managing Merino weaners


Merino weaners can be hard to manage over the summer months and most areas of Australia report higher than 6% mortality in 20% of all flocks. This represents a poor welfare outcome as well as lost income through fewer replacement animals, lower sale turnoff and poor production in the remaining animals.

The value of pregnancy scanning

Pregnancy scanning is a great management tool to improve profits for meat and wool enterprises, particularly those running higher stocking rates and when paddock feed is in short supply.

The decision to pregnancy scan ewes, either for wet/dry or multiples, is an important one and benefits vary with season, the reproductive rate of the flock and the management of the scanned ewes and whether their number will affect the overall flock structure.

Successful pregnancy scanning

The commercial availability of ultrasound scanning for pregnancy in ewes has been a major development for the sheep industry. It enables farmers to know the pregnancy status of their ewes about two months before they are expected to start lambing. Information on the pregnancy status of ewes enables farmers to:

  • Identify and manage ewes separately according to pregnancy status
  • Identify and potentially cull dry ewes from flock
  • Identify early and late conceived single bearing ewes
  • Calculate lamb losses between scanning and marking

To make the most of the pregnancy diagnosis it is important for the observations to be very accurate.