Increasing lamb survival and lamb weaning weight through feeding high fecundity crossbred sheep


  • C. Johns
  • J. Johns
  • D.R. Stevens


The monitoring of a high fecundity ewe flock in the Te Anau basin demonstrates the process of improved feeding to improve lamb survival and growth to weaning. Feed budgeting was changed from traditional to tailored feed requirements based on measured ewe liveweight with wastage of 15% factored in. Feed allocation was changed from monthly to weekly increases during late pregnancy, and set stocking was delayed until the planned start of lambing. This increased late pregnancy feed allocation from 99 kg DM/ewe to 128 and 144 kg DM/ewe for twin and triplet bearing ewes, respectively. Ewe body condition score was maintained at between 3 and 3.5, with condition score loss between scanning and lambing being reduced to zero. Lamb survival and lamb liveweight gain to weaning increased in both twin and triplet bearing ewes. Pregnancy scanning increased from 200 to 222 lambs per 100 ewes, between 2007 and 2012, while lambing percentage (lambs weaned/ ewe mated) rose from 132% to 165%, with more ewes rearing lambs and rearing multiples. Lamb wastage declined from 37% in 2007 and 2008, to 25% in 2011 and 2012, though scanning percentage rose by 20%. Lamb weights increased from 27.5 to 36 kg/lamb at 100 days of age. The increase in the liveweight of lambs and ewes at weaning reduced the calculated feed requirements over summer and autumn, potentially releasing 70 to 110 kg DM/ewe to provide feed to meet the extra winter feed requirements. Keywords: ewe body condition score, feed allocation, lamb survival, lamb weaning weight






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