Video: How to BCS ewes and the importance of it

With the lambing season fast approaching for many mid-season lambing flocks, now is the time to find out what condition ewes are in.

AgriLand paid a visit to the farm of Anthony Mulligan, in Co. Leitrim, who had just housed his ewes and was about to body condition score (BCS) them, in order to draw up a feeding plan that would enable him to feed them adequately during the last few weeks of gestation.

On the day, AgriLand was joined by Teagasc drystock advisor, Cian Condon, who talked Anthony through the process of how to BCS ewes and the importance of carrying out this job.

Cian explained that for a lowland flock such as Anthony’s, that the ideal BCS come lambing time of his ewes should be 3.0.

It is important that farmers physically handle their sheep to see what BCS they are – to see if any ewes require preferential treatment to get them up to the required BCS.

A number of issues can arise if a ewe is in poor BCS – especially around lambing time.

A ewe in poor condition will hold on to energy supplies instead of passing them onto her offspring. This, in turn, will affect lamb growth-rates and colostrum production.

Therefore, feeding ewes adequately with concentrates and good-quality silage is extremely important.

Listed (below) is a number of issues that will arise from poor body condition.

These issues (accruing from poor body condition) include: 

  • Energy directed to body reserves instead of the growing foetus;
  • Reduced milk production;
  • Increased losses;
  • Less vigorous lambs;
  • Lower lamb growth-rates;
  • Twin lamb disease.