Scanning is an essential tool in managing your ewe flock pre lambing. To get the best value from scanning, aim to have the ewes scanned as close as possible to 80 days post ram turn out. Scanning at that stage will ensure that the scanner can pick up all of the ewes that are in lamb. It also allows enough time to segregate and preferentially treat ewes that are carrying triplets. It is important to start feeding ewes carrying triplets before you intend to start feeding the rest of the flock. With moderate quality forage you should aim to start feeding triplet-bearing ewes a small amount of concentrates (approximately 0.2kg per head per day) from about 10 weeks prior to lambing.
Allowing the ewes to lose a small amount of body weight (maximum 5%) in midpregnancy is beneficial. Problems arise if the ewes are already in poor body condition coming into mid-pregnancy or if the loss in body weight is greater than 5%.
It is important to remember that it is virtually impossible for ewes to put on a significant amount of body weight in late pregnancy.
Keep a close eye on body condition and house the ewes or start supplementary feeding once grass runs out and body condition starts to deteriorate.
The amount of concentrates and the timing of when such concentrates should be fed depends on the quality of the forage being fed. With low DMD (less than 65%) forages, twin-bearing ewes need to start getting concentrates 8-10 weeks before lambing. Getting the forage analysed will be a help to ensure that accurate pre-lambing nutrition is achieved.
Concentrates are much more expensive than last year. Shop around and look for value. Good quality ingredients are cereals (barley, wheat, maize and oats), pulps (citrus, beet), soyabean meal and distillers dried grains. Soya hulls, gluten, molasses and rapeseed are also acceptable but tend to be a good bit lower in energy than those ingredients on the first list.
For pregnant ewes in late pregnancy, feeding an appropriate mineral vitamin mix is essential.
Frank Campion, Research Officer, Teagasc, outlines the importance of pregnant ewes receiving sufficient nutrients from their feed.
In this video Michael Gottstein, Head of Sheep Programme, Teagasc, outlines the 3 bucket system to clean and sterilise equipment for lambing to prevent infection being transferred from ewe to ewe and lamb to lamb.