Sheep producers have been urged to monitor the condition score of their sheep and review supplementary feed needs in line with seasonal conditions.
Department of Agriculture and Food veterinary officer Danny Roberts said condition scoring, by handling sheep, provided a good estimation of the nutritional wellbeing of the sheep by assessing the muscle and fat covering its backbone.
Dr Roberts said it was important to ensure individual sheep within the flock were above condition score 2.
“There will be animals that vary within the flock so it is best to aim for an average condition score of 2.5 to ensure the ewes remain productive at mating,” Dr Roberts said.
Many producers in areas that have received below average rainfall are supplementary feeding sheep, as the animals’ energy intake from pastures is limited and the amount of food on offer continues to decline.
Dr Roberts said weaning 10 to 12 weeks after the start of lambing would reduce the nutritional demand on the ewes and allowed both the ewe and the lamb to be given sufficient feed more efficiently.
“Weaned lambs will require sufficient energy to grow at 50 grams per day or 1.5 kilograms per month but the supplement needs to be at least 12 per cent crude protein to ensure high survival rates,” he said.
Dr Roberts said producers should be continually reviewing their feed budget as the season progressed to determine the amount of supplementary feeding required.
“It is more cost effective to maintain the condition score of sheep at 2.5 than to lose it and try to regain it again before the next summer,” he said.
“Producers should also consider future stocking rates and opportunities to capitalise on solid market conditions, should dry conditions prevail.
The video How to condition score sheep is available for free, as well as the Supplementary feeding calculator for pregnant and lactating ewes.
The website now also features a Season 2017 webpage, which harnesses a range of livestock, agronomic and financial and wellbeing information.
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