Two critical points to keep in mind at housing time are lying and feed space.

From the time a ewe is housed and by the time she lambs down, she will have gained considerable weight and size, which needs to be taken into account when penning ewes for the housing period.

For example, a twin or triplet-bearing ewe will require more space in late pregnancy.

The only way to know how to split up your flock correctly at housing time is by scanning them.

Scanning ewes will allow farmers to pen single, twin and triplet-bearing ewes together, and it will also make feeding management much easier and more straightforward.

So it is important that farmers provide ewes with adequate floor and feed space, in order to optimise performance and reduce lamb mortality rates.

A task farmers should carry out is measuring pens in order to see if they are stocking their pens correctly or not.

It is important to provide ewes with adequate feed space throughout the housing period. An option for farmers, if their sheds are at full capacity, is to have a walk-through feeding passageway at either side of the pen. This allows farmers to feed their ewes from three sides of the pen.

Extra space needs to be allocated to ewes when they are fed concentrates compared to being fed hay or silage.

Particular attention should be paid to corners of the pen that are not accessible for ewes to gain access to concentrates.

The table (below) gives an indication of what lying and feed space should be given to ewes of various sizes.

Source: Teagasc

Furthermore, ewes should have access to fresh, clean water at all times.

It is important to provide ewes with plenty of lying space in order to prevent overcrowding, which can result in reduced performance.

Ewes which have inadequate floor space are at risk of becoming stressed and this could affect the growth of their offspring and result in lamb losses.

If floor space is tight it is important to have good airflow circulating throughout the shed to prevent ewes from becoming too warm.