With the breeding season only around the corner, it’s a critical time for farmers to analyse their ewes’ condition. Ewes should be examined 10 weeks pre-breeding, and any ewe not up to the task should be culled. At this stage of the year, ewes are either on after-grass or on a restricted-feeding regime to get them ready for the breeding season. Similar to the ram, ewes should have had their annual ‘NCT’ carried out. Listed below are four key areas which should be considered when choosing ewes to keep for the breeding season.
- Body condition Score
Body Condition Score (BCS) - Ideally, ewes should be ‘fit not fat’ and they should be in a body condition score (BCS) of 3 at mating.
Flushing is carried out to increase the plane of nutrition to ensure weight gain and correct BCS pre-breeding.
Teeth - Ewes that are missing teeth are going to find it more difficult to graze grass; hence, a reduction in condition will be experienced. This will affect the ewe’s ability to cycle and become pregnant.
Feet - It is critical that ewes are not lame. Lameness can result in: reduced weight gain; extra feed costs; extra labour costs; reduced milk yield; and pregnancy toxemia.
80% of foot problems are caused by footrot and scald.
Udder - Any ewes that have a history of mastitis, blind teats and lesions on teats should be analysed carefully before making a decision on her breeding capabilities