Sheep Guide: Combating losses at lambing time


This week's sheep guide takes a look at tackling losses at lambing.

Sheep Guide: Combating losses at lambing time

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This week's sheep guide takes a look at tackling losses at lambing.

Lambing 2017 is well underway but this week's sheep guide is all about combating lamb losses here we take a look at 5 key rules to remember to help prevent mortality rates climbing on the farm.

Recording events at and around lambing offers clues to why losses are happening. Five key measures will indicate where the problems lie.

1.Ewes tupped − the total number of ewes/ewe lambs put to the tup.

2.Lambs scanned − calculated from the results of pregnancy scanning. Scanning percentage = (number of lambs scanned/number of ewes put to the tup) x 100.

3.Lambing percentage (lambs born alive) − when compared to lambs scanned,this indicates how many lambs have been lost during pregnancy through absorption or abortion. When compared to the number of lambs born dead it can highlight health problems such as underlying infectious abortion or nutritional deficiencies.

4.Lambs turned out − when compared to lambs born, shows how many lambs are lost during the first few days of life. A fall in numbers could indicate underlying health problems, hygiene issues or problems with colostrum intake.

5.Rearing percentage − comparing rearing percentage, or lambs weaned/sold, to lambs turned out gives an indication of mortality during the lambs’ first few months. These are more likely to be related to health problems, such as inadequate control of worms and infectious diseases. Rearing percentage = (number of lambs reared/number of ewes put to the tup) x 100.

Where ewes give birth outdoors, lambing percentage and lambs turned out may be replaced by a figure for lambs tailed. This is generally done after lambing, but is still an important measure. The target for tailing could be based on the lambs turned out figure.

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