Time to draft thinner ewes on to better feed

Managing ewe condition is one of the most practical and useful steps that can be taken on-farm to improve productivity and reduce problems, according to Teagasc.

It’s vital – particularly this year – that this process starts on time. Teagasc also advises to assess the condition of the ewe flock and replacements now and draft any of the thinner ewes on to better feed.

In many cases, Teagasc says, this will involve joining them with the finishing ewe lamb group. It is also a good opportunity to identify culls and remove them from the flock.

Where feed supplies are limited – particularly in the southern and eastern parts of the country – it has been necessary to keep ewes on limited feed.

In some of these cases ewes, particularly thinners ones, will need additional concentrate supplementation in addition to forage to improve ewe condition, Teagasc says.

Another area that warrants consideration is the ewes’ physical characteristics. Ideally, farmers should assess their ewes 10 weeks prior to breeding. This is essential to achieve the best results when it comes to lambing next spring and to ensure that no problem ewes are carried over.

Along with body condition score, a focus should also be placed on the ewes’ teeth. Ewes with under or over-shot mouths, missing teeth, worn/long teeth or uneven molars should be earmarked for culling.

Attention should also be given to the ewes’ feet and udder. When it comes to feet, problem ewes – which do not respond to treatment – should be culled out of the flock.

Consideration must also be give to ewes with mastitis, pendulous udders, blind teats or ewes with lesions or sores on the teats.