Nutritional Management of the Ewe in Late Pregnancy

Based on the requirements of a lowland flock - ewe average 75kg
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  • The key to correct feeding is to condition score on a regular basis (weekly during the last 8 weeks of pregnancy), and if you also pregnancy scan you will be able to identify any thin ewes carrying multiple lambs that may need additional feeding, or any fat ewes carrying a single lamb that may need less feed (aim for condition score no higher than 3 throughout pregnancy)
  • If you don’t pregnancy scan, judge their feeding requirement on condition scores.
  • Based on the table above, to calculate your total feed requirements, multiply 84kg by number of breeding ewes = total feed requirement + creep feed for lambs
  • If you have sufficient dry, rodent-proof storage, you should be able to obtain a discount from your feed merchant for bulk buy!
  • Concentrate feeds are not all the same!  Ensure minimum of 18% crude protein (which may legally contain up to 1.9% less!)
  • If you have any concerns about the nutritional status of the ewes, ask your vet to blood-test (BOHB) between 4-6 weeks before they are due to lamb
  • You can supplement feed with high-evergy buckets or give a mineral drench about 4 weeks prior to lambing – but if the ewes are not deficient, this may be a waste of money, so forage and soil analyses, and ewe blood-testing can pay for themselves in the long run!
  • The reason for starting with a small quantity of feed in week 1 is to reduce the danger of acidosis in the ewe:  a diet high in concentrates (especially wheat) can increase the acidity of the rumen.  Soya is highly digestible.
  • Forage (straw/hay/haylage) should be available at all times, and should form the basis of the diet.  If you have your forage analysed, and it is high quality (20% or more DM – Dry Matter), you can reduce the amount of concentrate feed
  • Clean water should be available at all times.
  • Always ensure that ewes have plenty of trough space for all to feed at the same time without barging.

sheep cover3 smMore information on caring for your flock during the breeding season can be found on “The Breeding Flock” DVD.