With feed prices as they are, it’s tempting to economize on feeding in late pregnancy. But have a think back to last spring’s lambing. If you had a good lambing with healthy ewes and vigorous lambs, do you really want to take a backward step? If things didn’t go so well, maybe you suffered with twin lamb disease or lost lambs because they were weak with no will to live. Perhaps ewes just didn’t milk and colostrum was thin and poor quality. It makes economic sense to feed ewes well in late pregnancy. Ewes needs correct nutrients for
• maintaining and growing the unborn lambs
• developing the udder and milk production
• producing good quality colostrum
• avoiding metabolic disorders, such as twin lamb disease.

At this time, the ewe’s energy and protein requirements increase rapidly; more than doubling for those carrying twins. However, as the lambs grow and take up more room inside, ewe appetite reduces by about 30%. At this time, good quality ingredients should be used to achieve this with no reliance on low energy products. Trough space is also important at this time to ensure all ewes have access to feed including ewe lambs and older ewes.

Meet the rapid increase in ewe energy and protein requirements in the final eight weeks of pregnancy through careful nutritional management, appreciating that mortality is invariably highest in lambs with a low birth weight and/or born to ewes in poor body condition. Ewes underfed in late pregnancy produce lambs with low reserves of brown fat used specifically for protection against hypothermia. Ensure a good supply of vitamin E during pregnancy increases lamb vigour.
Twin lamb disease is down to inadequate levels of available energy and is preventable. Ensure that all ewes are at optimum body condition, this includes making sure wormers are up to date so that fluke infestations for example can’t pull the ewe’s body condition down. Keep stress to a minimum, take care if using dogs and avoid changes to feed or environment. Be sure that there’s enough trough space so that all sheep are getting their share of concentrates, young ewes and old ewes may need to be kept in a separate group. Try to divide ewes into groups depending on the number of lambs they are carrying and feed accordingly.

Colostrum is formed in the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. Thin, pale fore-milk indicates poor pre-lambing feeding whilst thick, yellow colostrum suggests the ewes have been well-fed. Surprisingly, better feeding can boost antibody levels by 25%, resulting in fewer losses from disease. Good nutrition will also ensure the ewe stays fit around lambing as well, with strong healthy ewes more likely to survive a difficult lambing.

Ask your Jameson rep about the benefits of using our Ewedale range of sheep pencils and rolls.

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