Feeding Ewes for Pregnancy

Managing ewes for joining

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

Key points:

  • The higher the condition of the ewe at joining, the higher the potential number of lambs and the lower the number of dry ewes.
  • Ewes joined in the spontaneous breeding season have a greater chance of falling pregnant.
  • It is cheaper to maintain ewe condition from weaning rather than let the ewes’ condition drop and then feed them supplements in the lead up to joining.


Managing ewes in late pregnancy

Ewe condition in late pregnancy has a major influence on the growth of the foetus which has a significant impact on birth weight and therefore survival. 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, poor ewe nutrition in late pregnancy influences secondary wool follicle development which directly influences the density and fineness of the fleece of the progeny.

Key Points:

  • Ewe condition in late pregnancy affects lamb birth weight and therefore survival.
  • Lambs born from ewes with poor condition in late pregnancy will have lower production for life.
  • Twin lambs are very vulnerable to poor ewe nutrition and low survival rates will occur particularly if lambing weather is poor or low feed is available to the ewe at lambing.
  • Ewe mortality is affected by low nutrition in the lead up to lambing and individuals should not be below condition score 2 for lambing.

 

To read more click on the 'Practical Wisdom Notes' tab below and download the Reproduction Series.


Practical Wisdom Notes / Fact Sheets

PW1.1 Enterprise Management Series

In this series:

  1. Optimising stocking rate - the key to increasing pasture utilisation and profit - November 2006

  2. Profitability of sheep enterprises in southern Australia - November 2006

  3. Lambing at the right time in southern Australia - the first step to increasing sheep profits - November 2006


PW1.2 Nutrition Series

In this series

  1. Options for light weight spring lambs - November 2006

  2. Sorghum grain for lot feeding of sheep - March 2007

  3. Feedlot calculator - March 2007

  4. Feeding grain and hay separately in lamb feedlots cheap and effective - April 2008

  5. The Cowra Bale Feeder for hay and roughage feeding - April 2008


PW1.3 Reproduction Series

In this series:

  1. Managing ewes for joining
  2. Managing ewes in late pregnancy
  3. Managing Merino weaners
  4. The value of pregnancy scanning
  5. Successful pregnancy scanning

PW1.5 Precision Sheep Management

In this series:

  1. Profiting from Individual Electronic Identification (eID)

  2. Pedigree Matchmaker - determining dam pedigree

  3. Individual Electronic Identification (eID)


Products & Training Resources

PSM Software - Feedlot Calculator

Reports, Articles and Presentations

ASKBILL for a crystal-clear look at the future

Managing sheep health can be complicated and it can often seem that a crystal ball would be a good tool to have at your disposal so you could predict the future - By Jill Griffiths.


News Releases

DNA Flock Profile cements the foundations for new flock
Developing a flock with the right mix of genetics can take generations to perfect, but DNA testing has put Geelong sheep and wool producer Jack Briscoe on the fast track to success. Mr Briscoe is only a year into breeding his own Merino flock after branching out from his sheep contracting business by cobbling together a mixture of 800 home-bred and yard-bought ewes as his breeding base. Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/dna-flock-profile-cements-the-foundations-for-new-flock-28-11-2017.php
Faster sheep DNA testing with new Australian GeneSeek lab
Sheep breeders using DNA testing to improve their genetic selections can look forward to faster turnaround times for test results thanks to Neogen Corporation’s decision to establish a genomic testing laboratory within Australia. GeneSeek Australasia, a wholly owned subsidiary of United States-based parent company Neogen, has acquired the assets of the Animal Genetics Laboratory (AGL), based at the Gatton campus of the... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/faster-sheep-dna-testing-with-new-australian-geneseek-lab-04-09-2017.php
Dramatic increase in early season searches on RamSelect
Inquiry for rams through RamSelect has never been stronger with a dramatic increase in the number of buyers searching the site so far this season compared to last year. More than 1129 ram searches were conducted on RamSelect during July, compared to just 154 at the same time last year. Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/dramatic-increase-in-early-season-searches-on-ramselect-22-08-2017.php
DNA testing to drive new era of ewe competitions
The traditional ewe competition is set to enter the innovation era with the inclusion of DNA Flock Profile tests as part of next year’s Doug Bicket Memorial Ewe trial in Parkes, NSW. The Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) will provide DNA profiling for all flocks entering the 2018 competition, currently valued at $800 plus GST per flock, as a means of supporting improved genetic selection... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/dna-testing-to-drive-new-era-of-ewe-competitions-18-07-2017.php
The predictive power of ASKBILL immortalised in song
An off-the-cuff comment and a spur of the moment decision to “have a go” have resulted in the sheep industry’s new predictive app, ASKBILL, being brought to life in song by Uralla musician Rhonda Brooks. Performed in a bush ballad style by Coffs Harbour musician Mal Winckle, the track is proving a popular addition to the ASKBILL website, helping to capture producers’ imagination as to the possibilities on offer... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/the-predictive-power-of-askbill-immortalised-in-song-10-07-2017.php
RamSelect moves towards commercial business model
The popular RamSelect app will move to a commercial funding model ahead of this season’s ram sales, as a first step towards ensuring the genetic selection tool’s financial viability and availability to producers in the long-term. RamSelect Plus is an easy to use web-based application, www.ramselect.com.au, which allows ram buyers to find and rank rams based on Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) that match their own... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/ramselect-moves-towards-commercial-business-model-03-07-2017.php
Faster, more accurate DNA Parentage and Poll test to be released in July
Sheep breeders will have access to a faster, more accurate DNA test for parentage and poll/horn status from July, which also includes new features to detect a range of genetic defects. First launched in 2012 by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), the DNA Parentage and Poll test has proven very popular with sheep breeders seeking to improve their genetic selections through more precise... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/faster-more-accurate-dna-parentage-and-poll-test-to-be-released-in-july-26-06-2017.php
‘Eye opening’ DNA Flock Profile delivers new breeding insights at Beechworth
DNA testing to obtain a genetic flock profile has changed the way Victorian Merino breeder Stuart Warner not only looks at his flock, but how he will approach his genetic selection decisions in the future. As a registered deliverer of Bred Well Fed Well and RamSelect workshops, Mr Warner has a close understanding of the power of Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) as an objective genetic selection tool. Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/eye-opening-dna-flock-profile-delivers-new-breeding-insights-at-beechworth-05-06-2017.php
The power of prediction now in sheep producers’ hands – just ASKBILL
A new app launched today will give sheep producers the power to see their stock’s future, all from the palm of their hand. The app, available at www.askbill.com.au, was made live to the public today, marking the start of a limited offering of the ASKBILL platform as part of a pre-release user feedback program – a vital step in putting the finishing touches to the product prior to ASKBILL’s full commercial release later... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/the-power-of-prediction-now-in-sheep-producers-hands-just-askbill-22-05-2017.php
To see your livestock’s future, just ASKBILL – new app live from Monday
Sheep producers and farm advisers are set to be wowed by the predictive power of the Sheep CRC’s latest flock-management app, ASKBILL, which will be released to industry on Monday. The web-based app, www.askbill.com.au, has been designed to draw on information generated by biophysical models that use daily downloads of climate data and forecasts to provide estimates for individual farms of the risk of flystrike and... Click Here To Read Full Article » https://www.sheepcrc.org.au/information/news/to-see-your-livestocks-future-just-askbill-new-app-live-from-monday-16-05-2017.php
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