Ewe nutrition mid pregnancy
There is often a lot of focus and investment put into the pre and post tupping period and rightly so, as management during early pregnancy is crucial to maximise the number of lambs conceived and successfully implanted in the uterine wall.
However, some may argue the hard work is done after the tups have been removed (until lambing time) but it is important not to let ‘nature take its course’ during mid pregnancy. Typically, the declining quality and quantity of grass available and harsh weather can lead to a loss of body condition score (BCS) which has been proven to be detrimental to productivity.
Although very little growth of the lambs will occur during the mid-pregnancy period, the foetal membranes, including the placenta which is essential for providing oxygen and essential nutrients to the growing lambs, will develop at this time (see Figure 1). If nutrition is compromised during mid pregnancy, then placental size can be small and a reduced supply of nutrients and oxygen will be available to the unborn lamb(s), often resulting in the birth of weak, unviable lambs.
Previous advice stated that fit ewes could lose up to half a BCS during the mid-pregnancy period without any effects on lamb development. However, recent studies have observed an increase in lamb mortality and a detrimental effect on lamb birth weight and vigour when ewes were underfed in mid pregnancy. Furthermore, the reproductive potential of ewe lambs born to underfed ewes during mid pregnancy has reportedly been reduced, as formation of the reproductive organs occurs during foetal development in utero.
Grass quality and quantity will often decline during the winter months and without additional supplementation, ewes can be at high risk of losing body condition. By ensuring adequate supplies of energy, protein, minerals and vitamins, ewe body condition score can be more easily maintained, leading to the production of strong and healthy lambs in the spring.
As well as being packed full of vitamins and minerals, Rumenco’s PROMAXX low moisture lick contains 20% protein from both natural and urea sources. This supports maintenance and placental growth for the production of strong and healthy lambs with better growth performance. The increased protein supply to in-lamb ewes can help support the digestion and intakes of poorer quality forages, especially in hill grazing situations. Additionally, PROMAXX can provide a good energy source (13MJ ME/kg DM) to utilise the additional protein provided and will also support BCS maintenance over the winter months.