5 top post tupping tips

Kate Philips, Independent Sheep Consultant, gives her top 5 tips post tupping.

5 top post tupping tips

Tip #1. Early pregnancy

Interfere as little as possible throughout mating and in the early weeks after the rams have been removed in order to maximise fertilisation and minimise embryo loss. In stressful conditions ewes will reabsorb embryos and potentially end up barren at scanning. Embryo implantation takes place by around 34 days of gestation.

Tip #2. Minimise Stress

Try not to gather ewes in early pregnancy, however any lame sheep should be treated as soon as possible otherwise they will suffer reduced feed intakes and potentially poor conception.

Tip #3. Grazing

Grass supplies should be kept stable with no large changes in feed supply or quality, that is unless extreme weather forces conserved forages to be provided. It's good practice to provide some dry forage in wet autumn/winter conditions to maintain pregnant ewe dry matter intake when grass levels can fall as low as 10% DM. However if body condition was good at mating CS 3.5 for lowland ewes, then they will have enough reserves to allow a small loss in weight.

Tip #4. Mid-pregnancy

Two to three months after mating, ewes can be allowed to lose half a body condition score approximately 4.5kg for a 70kg ewe and may benefit from slight under-nutrition whilst the placenta is developing. The ewe preferentially diverts energy supplies to placental development, which means that lambs get a good blood supply and ultimately have better birth weight.  Always consider the condition of the ewe; lowland ewes in less than condition score 3 should not be allowed to lose weight. Check condition regularly.

Tip #5. Trace elements

Some trace elements have a big influence on fertility and subsequent lamb performance, in particular cobalt, copper and selenium, so provide ewes with adequate supplies throughout pregnancy in order to help make sure lambs are strong and healthy. In many areas cobalt is deficient so this needs to be supplied every day, either by bolus or in feed.