Now's the time to boost lamb crop

Now’s The Time To Boost The Lamb Crop

Good ewe nutrition immediately before the rams go in sets the flock output for the rest of the year.

But this is often the time when pasture quality is in decline as we move into the autumn, so how do you reconcile the two issues? Paul Fox of Uniblock highlights how to use effective supplementary feeding to maximise your lamb output.

Around this time of year, sheep producers across the country will be thinking how best to minimise the number of ewes showing anoestrus, maximise the number of eggs shed and getting them fertilised. You only get one chance each year to optimise lamb output, so it’s important to make the most of it!

With every missed pregnancy costing around €1.70 per ewe, farmers will want to ensure embryos become safely implanted ready to develop into healthy, viable foetuses. Good nutrition will help enormously in achieving these objectives and ensuring ewes are on an improved plane of nutrition pre-tupping will give a lamb output response for most breeds.

At a time when grass quality is diminishing, supplementary feeding is often crucial in this respect, with 12 trials showing that it can boost lambing percentage by an average 15% (range 7-22%). This often results from a reduction in barren ewes and more animals holding to first cycle service, which also makes for a tighter lambing period. Supplementary ewe feeding pre-tupping can also increase the proportion of twins over singles.

At tupping time the optimum ewe body condition score for hardy breeds in the hills is 2.5-3.0. Research has shown that ewes supplemented at tupping time remain in better condition score through their pregnancy. Unitup provides ewes with fish oil and Megalac – a protected oil that boosts energy intake. Numerous trials on dairy cows and pre tupping ewes have shown it improves fertility. Unitup also contains Hi Pro soya to aid embryo development and the trace element package contains the newest developments in protected minerals.