Time to assess your ewes’ BCS now

Even though the breeding season won’t be kicking off on many sheep farms until October/November, preparations must begin now for it.

In particular, farmers should focus in on the condition of their ewes now and see if any will need preferential treatment over the coming weeks.

Ewes that are thin and need to put on condition must be given time. It won’t happen overnight, so, really, action needs to be taken now to ensure that those thin ewes are in good nick when the ram is turned out.

Also Read: Sheep management: Time to check if your ram is fit for purpose

Ideally, you want your ewes to have a body condition score (BCS) of 3.5 prior to mating; so if you have ewes with a BCS of 2.5 now, it is going to take eight-to-10 weeks for them to get to a BCS of 3.5 – provided they are fed good-quality grass.

The only way to know what ewes are going to need preferential treatment is to go through them one by one and physically handle them to see what condition they are in.

If it’s a case that you have some thin ewes, then they should be giving access to the best-quality grass on the farm and, in some cases, they may even need to be fed concentrates.

Furthermore, if not done already, along with bringing your ewes into the yard to assess their condition, it is also a good time to identify any ewes that may be too far gone and need to be culled.

If it is a case where some ewes are too far gone and it will take too long to get them in good condition, then the best thing to do is cut your losses and cull straight away.

Therefore, by assessing ewes 10 weeks’ prior to breeding, farmers are giving themselves the greatest chance to achieve the best results when it comes to lambing next spring and to ensure that no problem ewes are carried over.

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