Managing pregnancy in ewes

Page last updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2018 - 10:09am

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Management of lambing ewes

Your twinning ewes are the priority group of sheep on the farm. In most years they will make up at least 20% of your flock and be carrying nearly half of all potential lambs for that season.

Pregnancy scanning is a very useful tool in managing twinning ewes as they can be identified prior to lambing with time to provide closer monitoring and better nutrition. Draft off twinning ewes and run separately, or if paddock space doesn’t allow this, separate ewes in condition score less than 2.5 at day 90 of pregnancy and manage separately to increase condition score.

The ewe has an increasing feed demand, especially those bearing twins, in the last six weeks before birth. For example, a single bearing ewe of medium frame size requires 10 megajoules (MJ) of energy per day at day 100 of pregnancy, increasing to 13MJ of energy by lambing, and a twinning ewe requires 11.5MJ by day 100 and 16MJ by lambing.

Ewes that are pregnant while green feed is available need at least 700-1000kg dry matter per hectare (DM/ha) feed on offer (FOO) during late pregnancy with at least 1200kg DM/ha for twinning ewes. Information and photos of key FOO levels and pastures growth rates are available under 'links' in the side menu.

Ewes that are early lambers or lambing onto dry feed will require good quality supplementary feed with at least 12% protein and 10MJ of energy per kilogram. Learn more about supplementary feeding with our calculator.

It is important, at any condition score, that ewes either maintain or increase condition in the last third of pregnancy.

Think ahead so that you can prepare lambing paddocks and allocate the best paddocks to your priority mob. Consider controlling predation, providing shelter, and ensuring FOO will be near the target amount for the ewes by lambing.

Table 2 Condition score and feed on offer (FOO) targets for ewes at lambing
Ewes at lambing Condition score target Pasture target (kg DM/ha green FOO)
Single ewes 3.0 1500
Twinning ewes 3.0+ 1800+

Any ewes in less than condition score 2 at any time should be removed from the mob and managed separately.

Contact information

Danny Roberts
+61 (0)8 9892 8535