How to use scan results to plan ewe feeding regime
Under the Sheep Welfare Scheme (€10/ewe) introduced last year the option of Management of Pregnant Ewes (Scanning) was a very popular choice with applicants.
The scheme requires firstly that scanning results are recorded and that a receipt and a copy of scanning results from the scanner must be retained and made available for inspection.
The receipt needs to show the date and the number of sheep scanned. The results of the scan can be recorded on the receipt or alternatively the farmer himself/herself may record the results.
Secondly, ewes are to be grouped and managed post scanning in accordance with litter size. As scanning of March lambing ewes is currently in full swing, this article will look at ewe feed requirements in late pregnancy.
After scanning group ewes according to litter size when starting to feed concentrates. When your scanned litter size creeps over 2.0 then a significant percentage of ewes will be carrying 3 or more lambs.
The immediate priority for ewes carrying three or more lambs is an appropriate feeding regime to ensure that lamb birth weights approaching 4kg each is achieved. Smaller weak lambs, particularly in multiples, will lead to higher mortality levels.
Supplementary meal feeding of triplet or quad bearing ewes should commence 8 to 10 weeks before expected lambing date - in practice this is immediately after scanning.
Depending on ewe body condition and quality of forage available the level should rise to around 1kg per head per day (split into two feeds) in the weeks before lambing.