Winter shearing delivers increases in lamb birth weight
Ewes at Lyons were shorn in the third week of January in preparation for lambing in mid-March.
There are a number of benefits of this management technique but perhaps most telling is an increase in lamb birth weight of approximately 0.5kg per lamb.
When ewes are housed the duration of their pregnancy is shortened by around two days. When these housed ewes are shorn the duration of their pregnancy returns to the average of 147 days.
Other responses we see from winter shearing are increased intake and potential to increase stocking density in the shed.
We are now in the final two months of pregnancy for the flock, and this is one of the key periods in the production cycle.
A number of very important events are taking place in this window including approximately 80-85pc of foetal development takes place, the mammary gland is conditioned for lactation (largely in the final three weeks of pregnancy) and the ewes intake capacity is declining.
Our objective at Lyons is to maintain ewe body condition score (BCS) during the final six to eight weeks of pregnancy, and BCS is something we monitor continually throughout the year.
When the ewe is turned out to grass with lambs at foot, there is a large demand on her system to produce milk for her lamb(s).