3 of our top tips for preparing ewes for tupping
Making sure ewes are in the right condition pre-tupping will help to ensure target lambing percentages are achieved.
Following challenged grass growth this spring and summer, ewe condition may be varied so here are our top tips which can be used to prepare ewes for tupping this autumn.
1. Split ewes by body condition score
As part of early pre-tupping preparation, split ewes into fit-thin-fat groups ten to twelve weeks before putting rams in. This will allow for grazing to be allocated to ensure ewes meet their target body condition score (BCS) by the time rams are introduced.
Meeting target BCS scores will improve ewe fertility and increase the chances of at least 75% of ewes holding to first service. Read our blog on improving ewe fertility to learn more.
The ideal BCS prior to breeding will vary depending on breed and type, but a basic guide for ewes is as follows:
Lowland Ewes: 3-3.5 BCS | Upland Ewes 2.5-3 BCS | Hill Ewes 2- 2.5 BCS
2. Understand energy requirements and grazing intakes
The energy requirements (MJ) and grazing intake (Kg DM) to achieve optimal body condition scores, will vary depending on breed. For a lowland 70kg ewe to gain one BCS it will need to put on 7kg in weight and to put on half a BCS, it will need to put on 3.5kg in weight. A break down of the energy and grazing intakes required to achieve this weight gain can be seen in the table below:
|Lowland 70 kg ewe at mating|
|Body condition score gain||1.0|
|Weight gain requirement (kg) over 70 days||7.0|
|Energy and grazing intake for weight gain|
|Daily ME for weight gain (MJ)||10|
|Maintenance ME requirement (MJ)||8.4|
|Total ME Requirement (MJ)||18.4|
|Daily grass intake requirement (Kg DM)||1.84|
To achieve the energy requirements and grazing intake:
- Move fit and fatter ewes onto barer ground or poorer-quality grazing to prevent them gaining too much condition (BCS >4). Slimming ewes that are above their target BCS could have a negative impact on follicle development.
- Where ewes are leaner (BCS less than 2) or grazing is limited, consider early weaning, providing more access to better-quality and if necessary supplementary feed and nutritional blocks.
Assess how the flock are performing every two to three weeks to allow adjustments to be made if necessary.
3. Perform health checks
Health issues and disease risks within the flock could reduce grazing time and result in a drop in condition, preventing ewes from meeting their target BCS.
Ideally, a preventative approach to health issues should be taken throughout the year but check for the following signs of ill health when splitting the flock to optimise ewe condition pre-tupping:
- Worm burdens. Common signs include scouring and poor condition
- Fluke challenges. Common signs include scouring, poor condition, swelling beneath the jaw and poor fleece condition
- Poor teeth
Administering a multi-vitamin drench containing cobalt and selenium to all ewes four to six weeks before tupping will also help reduce the likelihood of health or disease risks caused by trace element deficiencies.
For more information on performing ram health checks check out our tup health blog
Are you performance-ready? Our specialist advisers are here to help smash targets, not just hit them.
For more information on Tupping, visit our Time4Tupping information page here.