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Offering Rumenco buckets at tupping lifts lambing percentage and profitability

Lambing percentage continues to be one of the key factors determining profitability on farm, with the major factor affecting lambing percentage being ewe body condition before and during tupping and through early pregnancy.

A detailed analysis of 12 independent tupping studies from around the country, covering both lowland and hill flocks and conducted under a wide variety of conditions, all demonstrated an increase in lambing percentage (up to 22%) when bucket supplements were offered at tupping time.

Furthermore, scanning data from these trials showed that the increase in lambing percentage was largely down to a rise in the number of twin-bearing ewes and not an increased number of triplets, explains David Thornton, Rumenco’s Technical Manager.

Producers therefore not supplementing grazing for ewes and rams pre-tupping using feed buckets are missing out on the opportunity of an additional £7 per ewe added margin next summer, adds David.

Proper preparation will always offer a better opportunity of success and therefore, preparing ewes and tups for this crucial time of year is critical. Traditional ground or trough feeding of concentrates or cereals is not recommended around tupping time. “These feeds tend to flush the liver clear of the hormone progesterone which is needed for the ewe to recognise pregnancy” explains David “therefore, switching to a molassed bucket will not only reduce the workload of the producer, as they do not need to be put out daily, but will also reduce stress on the animals, poaching around feeding areas, enable better forage utilisation through positioning in grazing areas and prepare the ewes and tup at this crucial time in the sheep calendar”.

pre-tupping-update-article1.jpgRumenco Maxx Energy, is a low moisture feed bucket suitable for feeding both ewes and tups from two weeks pre-tupping for eight weeks. The high energy level helps ewes to achieve, and maintain, the correct body condition for optimum reproductive performance. The controlled intakes with Maxx means one bucket can feed up to thirty-five ewes for eleven days.

“The research using buckets pre-tupping has shown repeated, consistent benefits to performance and profitability – something producers cannot afford to ignore.”

Where producers are looking for an extra boost for ewes at tupping then Rumenco SUPAlyx Super Energy Plus with Fish Oil offers something different. Fed for an eight-week period around tupping and early pregnancy the added fish oil is a source of omega 3 fatty acids which are shown to support fertility in ewes (and tups).

“Abundant in lush, spring grass these fatty acids are in much shorter supply in autumn grass states David, so supplying them via a bucket is ideal and offers more than just energy, minerals and vitamins supplied by standard products.

Furthermore, a ewe needing to gain, or even hold body condition has similar energy requirements to a twin-bearing ewe in the run up to lambing. 

Relying on just autumn grass plus a mineral supplement she may struggle to meet such requirements”.

“In addition to energy and protein, buckets provide key elements such as cobalt and selenium which are also important at this critical time” he adds.

pre-tupping-update-article2.jpg“Finally, it’s important to ensure tups are not forgotten, as there are two parts to the equation!” notes David. “A fit, and fertile ram can comfortably serve 80 ewes so checking feet, teeth, body condition and testicles should have been done at least ten weeks pre-tupping. Tups should also be flushed pre-tupping using good quality grass and LIFELINE Ram Care.”

“Feeding concentrates tends to make tups lazy and increased lying generates heat, which can have detrimental effects on semen quality” David explains. “LIFELINE Ram Care has controlled intakes, contains fish oil, which supports libido during tupping as well as sperm production and motility, and quality protein to complement that found in fresh grass with the trace element content designed specifically to optimise sperm quality and hoof integrity as well.”

“Omega 3 fatty acids, that are present in fish oil, have been shown to improve fertility in both rams and ewes.”

“The sheep most likely to benefit from good nutritional preparation pre-tupping are young sheep, which are still growing, plus thin and older ewes retained for a final time.