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Preparing for Lambing

By P&L Agriconsulting, Jan 2 2018 12:22PM

Preparing for Lambing - Last 6 Weeks of Pregnancy

Correct ewe nutrition is one of the most influential factors behind periparturient losses, this is especially important in the last 6 weeks where 70% of the foetal growth occurs

Providing the ewe will the correct nutrients in terms of energy and protein levels will aid the following:

· Prevention of negative energy balance in the ewe

· Prevention of Hypocalcaemia and pregnancy toxaemia (twin lamb)

· Maintenance and growth of unborn lambs

· Production of good quality colostrum and adequate volumes

A ewe can only consume 2-2.5% of her body weight in dry matter (DM), therefore in an 80kg ewe this equates to 1.6 to 2.0kg DM. This is complicated by a 10% reduction in dry matter intake (DMI) during the final two weeks of pregnancy.

There are many options for feeding in this last 6 weeks of pregnancy, the decision on farm will be dependent on availability of products and individual ewe/flock demands.

Paddock Grazing

This is especially seen in more robust extensive breeds that usually lamb outside. Sufficient winter growth of grass is needed with this option, which may be especially difficult this season with lower grass growth levels than this time last year. Set stocking is usually returned to 3 weeks before lambing and additional conserved forage is added in bad weather situations.

Deferred Grazing

This where ewes are removed from a block of ground before winter so a wedge of grass is built up, which can then be fed back by strip/paddock grazing. Although this would have needed to be considered in the September period to build up sufficient quantity.


These include crops such has kale and forage rape, a run back section is key with these crops. Brassicas provide a high energy diet but there are specific mineral needs that need to be met with these crops. Adequate protein levels in the overall diet need to be monitored when feeding fodder beet and swedes.

Conserved Forages

In creating a diet of conserved forage there can be huge variation between forages, even form the same field, so analysis is key.

The higher the forage quality, the higher the feed intake, with added concentrates seen to decrease the volume of forage consumed. Concentrates are not necessary in all conserved forage diets, this is especially seen in single bearing ewes.

Energy and protein demand of the ewe is again key in making the decision to feed concentrate. With obvious variation seen in ewe body weight and number of lambs. Energy of concentrates and protein content, along with type of protein is vital. With recent research highlight the importance of good quality protein sources.

For more information please contact Sarah Les at P&L Agri-Consulting on 07903 021875 or [email protected]

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