AgMemo Northern Agricultural Region

Condition score sheep flock crucial for 2017 season

A sheep
Sheep producers have been urged to condition score their flock to ensure the wellbeing of their flock, especially in areas with below average seasonal rainfall.

Sheep producers are being urged to monitor the condition score of their sheep and review supplementary feed needs in line with seasonal conditions.

Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) 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.

It is 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.

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.

Weaning 10 to 12 weeks after the start of lambing would reduce the nutritional demand on the ewes and allow 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% crude protein to ensure high survival rates.

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.

Producers should also consider future stocking rates and opportunities to capitalise on solid market conditions, should dry conditions prevail.

More information can be found at the DAFWA website

For more information contact Dr Danny Roberts, Veterinary Officer, Albany on +61 (0)8 9892 8535.