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Sheep special: Tips on managing young ewes

Looking after young ewes in your flock will reduce culling and improve productivity according to Dr Liz Genever, AHDB senior beef and lamb specialist.

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She says:“Whether they are ewe lambs or shearlings they are lambing for the first time so their udders are still developing,” she said.

 

“This means there is a high risk of teat lesions as lambs may take longer to feed if milk yield is reduced and these may become infected. The skin of the teats will not have become hardened and it is the first time the sheep will have been exposed to certain bacteria.”

 

The risk of mastitis is increased by underfeeding protein and energy in pregnancy and lactation, low body condition score and poor hygiene.

 

Dr Genever says ewe lambs and in some cases shearling are better only rearing one lamb.


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“If they are struggling to rear twins you have the option of taking one off. It is a question of pushing them at this stage and risking losing them from the flock earlier or looking after them a bit more with the aim of them lasting longer."

 

Dr Genever advises ewe lambs should be 60 per cent of mature body weight at first mating, 70 per cent at first lambing, 80 per cent at second mating and at the third mating 100 per cent mature weight.

 

She says: “In order to do this you have to know what is the mature weight for a ewe in your flock make sure you are tupping ewe lambs at optimum weight.

“Feed ewe lambs to grow up to six weeks before lambing and then feed for maintenance in the last six weeks of pregnancy.

 

"In lactation ewe lambs should be fed 20 per cent more than mature ewes with the same litter size. Shearlings should be fed 10 per cent more energy and protein pre lambing and in lactation than mature ewes.

 

“If possible manage young ewes as a separate group as it will make it easier to prioritise them.

 

"Monitor body condition score of ewes and lamb weights and if necessary creep lambs to reduce risk of mastitis and teat lesions and wean early to allow ewes to recover before next mating.”

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