With tupping season in sight, farmers should be looking to get rams and ewes in optimum condition in order to ensure a top performance from next year’s lamb crop. Bethany May, ruminant nutritionist at Trident Feeds explains.
“Ewes are only half the picture when it comes to getting the best lambing performance and it’s important not to neglect the impact an unfit ram will have on lambing percentages,” said Ms May.
It is crucial to body condition score (BCS) rams prior to the tupping period, as they need to be able to produce enough semen, which begins producing six weeks before the season begins.
A BCS of around 3.5 at tupping should be aimed for, enough fat to keep them going but not too much, as over-fat rams will be lazy and not work as hard to service all the ewes.
Ms May advises that rams with a BCS lower than 3.5 should be provided with a supplementary palatable feed such as sugar beet.
Getting the nutritional management of ewe’s right is crucial to encouraging higher ovulation rates and getting animals in lamb successfully.
In order to encourage stronger heat expression, an increased number of eggs to be ovulated and higher conception rates, it is recommended that ewes are flushed to allow them to have access to a high energy dense ration before mating.
Ms May warned, “It’s important not to leave pre-tupping nutrition of rams and ewes until it’s too late. Producers should start planning now to allow time to improve condition in order to obtain maximum performance at lambing.”