Using data from large scale farming operations to understand the importance of feeding the ewe to improve whole farm performance


  • D.R. Stevens
  • G. Young



The collection and use of data from large scale farming operations provided significant insights into drivers of sheep performance. These drivers included minimum two-tooth liveweight at tupping, ewe condition and pasture cover at lambing and the importance of weaning weight on whole farm performance. Using this data to demonstrate the influence of management decisions resulted in an increase in average lamb liveweight gain between birth and weaning of approximately 20 g/day in Landcorp Farming Ltd East Coast flocks over the 4 years of monitoring. Lambing percentage was harder to change, though individual farms increased lambing percentage by up to 35% by concentrating on increasing feed allocation and maintaining ewe body condition score during winter. Low liveweight in some two-tooth ewes was inversely related to the percentage of dries in a flock and prompted more emphasis on growing replacement stock. The programme shifted focus from short-term tactical feeding and management decisions to long-term strategies such as stock and sales policies that placed the breeding flock as the major priority. Keywords: breeding ewes, data, lambing percentage, lambs, liveweight gain, whole flock analysis.







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