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How to feed ewes pre-mating

How to feed ewes pre-mating

Importance Of Nutrition For Ewes

In the lead-up to the mating season, it’s essential to ensure your sheep are in the best possible condition to provide you with healthy offspring. The health of the ewes and the nutrition you provide them with can have a significant impact on the success of their pregnancy. 

Flushing is essentially increasing the levels of feed provided and a way of improving nutrition in ewes before and throughout mating. This technique has also been recognised as a way of stimulating fertility in terms of the number of eggs released and conception rates. 

Supplementation may not be required if the climate or irrigation cooperates by supplying good grass before mating, but they are definitely worth taking into account if pasture quality or supply is subpar or if ewes need an extra boost after a challenging period.

This article will provide insight into how best you can prepare your ewes for the mating season and the best nutrition for feeding farm sheep before the beginning of this busy period.


Ewe Feed Requirements 6 To 8 Weeks Up To Mating

There are several things to consider when feeding goats and sheep over the 6-8 week period before mating begins. This is the ideal time to look at the ewe body condition score (BCS) again. Now is the time to make any feed management changes to get the ewes into the perfect body condition for mating.

Optimal preparation of your ewes in the month before mating can positively affect fertilisation and their lambing percentages. It automatically improves the weaning rate, which means that there are more lambs to market and a more extensive selection pool for replacement ewes.

Pre-mating your ideal BCS target score is between 3-3.5. The ewes that have been identified as needing some pre-mating conditioning are essentially fed extra feed to bring their weight up. The benefits of achieving this target weight are tried and tested by farmers. At this time of year, the ewes are prioritised in the pastures over the lambs for this very reason.

Having your ewes in good body condition for the mating season can make a real difference to lambing success and, therefore, your farm’s profitability. Making sure that your ewes are above a BCS of 3-3.5 helps drastically with the production of eggs during ovulation.

Throughout the year, the condition of your pasture is extremely important. Ensuring you have enough good quality grass going into winter will help ensure that you have enough for feeding sheep, but mainly ewes, pre-lambing.


Ewe Feed Requirements During Mating

When feeding sheep pre-lambing and in the mating season, maintaining your sheep at the right body condition score (BCS) is the best way to make sure that your flock is healthy enough to cope with what’s ahead. 

The reproductive performance of animals should improve when fed diets that cause an increase in live weight. Farmers can use grains and/or pellets as a supplement feed source to increase reproductive function because the amount of protein and calories in the diet affects the ovulation rate.

You can effectively manage this situation by separating ewes into different mobs and controlling their feeding. This can be done by creating different groups depending on whether the ewe is underweight, overweight or at the correct weight for mating. Supplying these different mobs with the correct nutrition in order to achieve more balance within the flock hinges on good preparation and up-to-date scoring of your ewes.


Other Preparation Aspects For Ewe Mating

Aside from providing your ewes with the right nutrition before and during mating season, there are a few other things to take into consideration. Preparation is the key to success. The following are some of the main steps to ensure your ewes are healthy and ready, helping you to prepare for a successful lambing season in the process.

  • Parasite Control

Deworming can be quite beneficial depending on the environment, season, and type of pasture. Due to the elimination of the adverse consequences internal parasites may have on the ewes (such as anaemia, decreased appetite, diarrhoea, irritation, nasal discharge, etc.), it may almost be considered a component of the flush-feeding effect.

  • Proper Vaccinations

Live vaccines should not be given within four weeks of the mating season. Make sure you have had any essential vaccinations (such as those for enzootic abortion, pulpy kidney, bluetongue, etc.) administered before. Disease can swiftly spread and have a terrible impact on your flock. 

  • Teaser Rams 

Stimulating ewes in an attempt to bring them into heat out of season, trying to reduce the duration of lambing season, is a job for a teaser ram. Never more than nine to 11 days before the commencement of the mating season, add teaser rams at a ratio of 2% of the number of ewes. Prior to the encounter, it’s crucial to keep the ewes away from the rams. The ewes may enter oestrous as a result of this, and if they are not fertilised, they may enter reproductive rest by the time mating season begins.


In Summary…

Whether you are focusing on ewe, goat or deer nutrition, preparation and timing are essential in making sure the next stage of the rearing cycle is prepared for. The more organised you are in having your stock at the right weight, health and nutrition levels, the better the outcome when it comes to lambing season.

When you efficiently manage how and what you are feeding sheep before lambing, you are getting them in the best shape possible to deal with this physically demanding time. In doing so, you maximise the likelihood that you have a low mortality rate amongst ewes and lambs in your flock.

When you choose Sharpes Farm Feeds to provide for your animals, you can rest assured they are eating the highest quality stock feed with the freshest raw materials. Contact us to find out more about our products.

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