The tupping period can impact on the entire lamb life cycle right up to finishing, so David Thornton, Rumenco technical manager, says ensuring your breeding flock is in the best possible condition by flushing effectively can result in better margins.
Mr Thornton says: “Weaning provides a good opportunity to carry out health checks, as ewes will already be handled in this process.
“Check teeth, feet and udders, and speak to your vet and advisers for farm-specific flock health advice.“Ensure lambs are weaned in plenty of time to aid fertility.”
Get your ewes’ body condition score right at flushing to ensure a successful tupping period.
Mr Thornton says for a 70kg ewe, you want to aim for a metabolisable energy intake of 12-14MJ per day throughout the flushing period to maintain ovulation rates.
“Provide adequate trace elements to avoid any deficiencies. Selenium is a key trace element which is often lacking at this time and it can have a profound impact on fertility. Copper can also impact fertility, as well as cobalt and iodine, and there are generally major issues with all of these in sheep.
“It can be beneficial to separate thinner ewes and introduce supplementary nutrition blocks earlier to help support their requirements.”
Mr Thornton advises carrying out AHDB’s ram MOT in plenty of time to ensure they are ready to work.
“Avoid feeding rams concentrates to steam them up ready for work as it tends to encourage laziness and reduce sperm quality.
“Provide nutritional buckets which are tailored specifically for rams and contain zinc and selenium.”
Tightening the lambing period can have a positive impact on labour, feed, the way ewes are grouped, and management at lambing time. More evenly sized batches of lambs can help in controlling diseases such as coccidiosis.
Mr Thornton says it is possible to tighten the lambing period by either using vasectomised teaser rams before stud rams go in or using progesterone sponges, which give reliable synchronisation but are labour intensive.