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It makes sense to look after your ewes - better care = better profits

With spring lambing just around the corner and lamb prices still high, farmers can substantially improve their overall profits by honing in on the right nutrition and stock management strategies for breeding ewes.

“With strong lamb prices it makes sense to look after your pregnant ewes,” said Brett Littler from Central Tablelands Local Land Services.

“A small change in lambing percentage can make a big difference to your bottom line.”

Maintaining the right body condition in your flock is critical for optimum fertility and lambing success.

Both underweight and overweight ewes are more likely to suffer from health problems. Sheep that are too thin can suffer from pregnancy toxaemia and greater susceptibility to hypothermia, while over fat ewes are also prone to pregnancy toxaemia, as well as dystocia and vaginal prolapse.

Maintaining ewes at a body condition score of 3 to 3.5 throughout pregnancy is the best way to avoid health issues.
Local Land Services District Veterinarian, Nigel Gillan, says ewes in late pregnancy need to be carefully managed to avoid a range of health and disease issues.

“Simple preventative steps such as pre-lambing drenching and nutritional management can help reduce losses from worms, metabolic diseases, and other conditions,” said Nigel.

“Producers seeing illness or deaths in pregnant or lactating ewes are encouraged to contact their District Vet at Local Land Services to diagnose the problem and provide treatment advice. Some diseases have similar symptoms, so obtaining a correct diagnosis is important.”

Selecting the right paddock for lambing will also have a significant impact on both ewe and lamb survival.

Lambing paddocks should provide adequate feed (at least 1,200kg green dry matter per hectare, and preferably more with twin lambing groups) and shelter from prevailing winds with good access to water.

A smaller mob size will improve lamb survival, due to the lower incidence of mismothering. Ideally, stock densities should be less than 18 ewes per hectare in twin lambing paddocks.

“Lambing paddocks should also be prepared to have a low level of worm egg contamination.  When possible, choose paddocks that have been spelled or grazed by cattle,” said Nigel.

“Additionally, predators can account for between five to ten percent of losses in some situations, so it’s wise to start fox baiting well before lambing begins and continue until well into lambing.”

For more information about ewe management and improving lambing rates and profitability contact Nigel Gillan on 0417803685 or Brett Littler on 0427007398.

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause | 0439608370