Farming Talk: Looking forward to lambing

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It is important ewes are maintained on the same plane of nutrition with minimal dietary changes. Stress from handling or inadequate nutrition must be avoided to reduce embryo mortality.

Looking forward to lambing, in late pregnancy, six weeks prior to lambing, 75 per cent of foetal growth occurs. This corresponds with the increase in the ewe’s requirement for energy and protein.

The biggest challenge in meeting this energy increase is the lamb growth causes the ewe’s dry matter intake to drop up to 30 per cent resulting in a DMI as low as 1.4kg. Feeding high energy ewe feed such as Ewetrition Rolls or Champion Ewe Nuts helps to meet the nutrition requirements of ewes.

When ewes have a deficit in energy, they mobilise back fat which is metabolised in the liver. If excess back fat is mobilised the liver can become overworked and appetite declines further. This can lead to pregnancy toxaemia, hypocalcaemia, lower milk yield and increased lamb mortality.

Most mammary gland development also occurs in the last month of pregnancy. Undernutrition can reduce colostrum quantity, and delays onset of lactation.

By Abbigail England – technical manager at NWF Agriculture

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