Vital Nutrition For Optimal Fertility
Despite a kind lambing season this year and a good grass growing summer, it is still important to ensure both ewes and rams are in the correct body condition at tupping time, therefore laying the foundations for a successful lambing season in 2020
Maximising lamb output with the sale of strong and healthy lambs at a good price is the ultimate goal for every sheep producer. Yet, with an average scanning percentage of just 170% in the UK flock, this indicates that opportunities are being missed at tupping time and during the very early stages of pregnancy.
Aims & Action
One of the most important objectives at tupping time is to ensure that ewes are in the correct body condition score (BCS). It is recommended that lowland and hill ewes are BCS 3.5 and 2.5 respectively at tupping time, this helps to support optimal ovulation rates and ensure pregnancy success. Farmers should be aiming for more than 75% of ewes holding to first service, this tightens the lambing period and eases management and feeding further down the line. Similarly, they should also be aiming for less than 2% empty.
To ensure the correct BCS is reached by tupping it is important to start monitoring condition from weaning as it can take between 6 to 8 weeks for ewes to gain 1 BCS on good quality grazing. Furthermore, late summer/autumn grazing alone may not be able to provide all that is required, even when grass growth conditions have been favourable. As the quality starts to drop, supplementation may be required to balance energy and vital nutrient supply. Energy in the diet is important to ensure that ewes’cycle and subsequently hold to service whilst minerals and trace elements such as cobalt and selenium are also important at tupping time and in early pregnancy.
Supplementation around tupping time will help maintain nutrition levels during and after mating when grazing quality typically declines, whilst also providing additional minerals and vitamins,
in particular cobalt and selenium, all of which help to support this critical process in early pregnancy.
Rumevite Sheep Super Energy Plus Fish Oil is an extra high energy feed and mineral pressed block containing fish oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids to support optimal health, fertility and performance in breeding ewes and rams. Multiple energy, from fermentable starch and sugar along with protected fat helps to support ewe body condition from tupping through to lambing. A full mineral, vitamin and trace element specification, including selenium, cobalt and zinc, complements levels often found lacking in forages and are required to support fertility and overall ewe health. Intakes may be up to 300g per ewe per day and therefore
100 ewes will require approximately 1 tonne for an 8-week feeding period. Always ensure ad-lib forage is available.
Supplementation should be offered from two weeks prior to tup introduction for a total of 8 weeks, supporting the ewe at tupping and during early pregnancy when embryo implantation occurs.
On farm trials have shown that offering supplementation during this period can increase lambing percentage by up to 22% when compared to no supplementation. Furthermore, the maintenance of BCS during tupping and into pregnancy will have positive effects on both lamb health and performance.
Alternatively, Rumenco SugarMAXX is a low moisture feed bucket suitable for feeding both ewes and tups. The extra high sugar level helps balance the high rumen degradable protein levels found in late summer, early autumn grazing ensuring ewes achieve, and maintain the correct body condition for optimum reproductive performance, whilst the controlled intakes with SugarMAXX means one bucket can feed up to 35 ewes for 11 days.
The ideal sugar to protein ratio for optimal rumen efficiency is 2:1. Even plentiful Autumn grazing will have a declining sugar level, even though the protein content remains fairly stable at around
20%. In order to gain maximal utilisation of this autumn’s good grazing it is vital to provide a supplementary source of sugars and SUGARMAXX bucket is able to do just that.
Don’t forget the rams, the aim of supplementation for the rams is that they are fit not fat, with sperm motility, sperm concentrations and percentage of normal sperm being optimised with an extensively forage diet. LIFELINE RAM CARE is specially formulated and developed by SAC to support the hard-working ram without the need for substantial concentrates. Essential vitamins, minerals and energy combined with a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid from fish oil all support fertility and libido and the addition of Diamond V XP LS aids forage utilisation and efficiency.