Using a ’one site’ body condition score can give a quick indication of how a ewe is performing.
SCANNING time provides the ideal opportunity to condition score ewes, according to New Zealand sheep consultant Trevor Cook.
Speaking at an on-farm event recently in Cumbria he told the group of farmers the person pushing ewes through the scanning crate was perfectly placed to put a hand on every ewe, and he suggested using a ‘one-site’ body condition score (BCS) test.
He said: “Feeling the shape of the end of the short ribs in the loin area gives a good indication of what body condition score a ewe is.”
Mr Cook said BCS was important, but he still found it hard to get farmers in his native New Zealand to condition score their ewes.
“If you were just to weigh your ewes, it does not take into account different frame sizes. Once at a mature age, weighing is not a good tool to use. Body condition scoring is a good way of identifying sheep we can do something to to make a difference.”
He said while the ‘one-site’ method was ‘imprecise’, the only thing the person pushing ewes through the scanning crate needed to ascertain was whether the sheep was a BCS 3 or better, or below a BCS 3.
He added ewes with a BCS below 3 around the time of mating would not meet their potential at lambing.
He said: “BCS is a powerful tool to lift flock performance. It is one of the most profitable things you can do on-farm.”
Mr Cook said he used his hand to show what each score should feel like:
1: Tips of fingers feel like BCS 1
2: First knuckles feel like BCS 2
3: Second knuckles feel like BCS 3
4: The wrist feels like BCS 4