With the days getting longer it will soon be lambing time! Having recently completed a scanning course with a focus on identifying ewes carrying multiple lambs, I am reminded how challenging these can be, both to find on an ultrasound and to manage close to their due date.
Ensuring your ewes (or yows if you’re also from the Dales…) are on a suitable diet in the last few weeks before lambing is key; reducing risk of twin lamb disease, helping the ewe produce good quality colostrum, helping good udder development and also to provide enough energy for foetal growth and development, 75% of which happens in the last six weeks of gestation.
Metabolic profiling can be helpful in late pregnancy; blood sampling a selection of ewes to measure protein, energy and urea. Ideally this would be carried out 3-4 weeks prior to the start of lambing. This allows identification of energy deficits with enough time to make changes if concerns are identified. This should go in hand with forage analysis, which will indicate if there are any nutritional gaps.
As always, plenty of fresh water is vital for ewes, as limiting water (either by lack of water trough space or it not being fresh) can suppress appetite. This should continue at lambing where, due to lactation, water demands increase again.
Keep an eye out for the upcoming Flock Health Meeting which will cover these topics in more detail with a chance for questions and discussion. In the meantime, please get in touch if you have any questions or would be interested in blood sampling some ewes to help guide feeding in the upcoming weeks.