Sheep producers urged to save costs, up production in dry times through It’s ewe time! forums

Tailoring feed requirements and management to fit ewe production can help producers reduce costs and help to maintain a productive breeding flock in dry times, according to Sheep Connect NSW Project Manager Megan Rogers.

Mrs Rogers, who is also the Principal Consultant for SheepSMART Solutions and runs a mixed farm with her husband in Forbes, NSW, will discuss practical, easy-to-implement solutions to ensure producers can maintain a productive breeding ewe flock at the popular ‘It’s ewe time!’ forums to be held in the Southern NSW regions of Cooma, Gunning and Cowra.

She says eliminating wastage, identifying poor performers, and making management decisions based on ewe pregnancy status and performance are key to a productive flock.

It was key for producers to use pregnancy scanning to know the number of fetuses their breeding ewes were carrying and to know the difference in feeding requirements, of ewes carrying multiples in comparison to ewes with a single lamb or dry ewes, according to Mrs Rogers.

“The requirements differ significantly” she said.

“The benefits of scanning include the fact you can save on feed and be more efficient in the way you’re apportioning feed to the different animals based on their reproductive status.”

Mrs Rogers says it is important to make sure ewes carrying multiples receive adequate nutrition from scanning through to lambing and through lactation. Poor nutrition can lead to lower body condition and lower birth weights, which have a major influence on early lamb survival and lambing percentages.

She said knowing the difference could help a producer to feed stock more efficiently and provide a significant saving in feed costs.

“At scanning a 50-kilogram ewe with one lamb needs about 13 megajoules of energy per day, as opposed to one with twins on board which needs 15MJ of energy per day,” Mrs Rogers said.

“As you approach lambing, the ewe requirements continue increasing and by peak lactation – which is a month into lactation – there’s about a 6MJ difference between ewes with a single lamb versus those with twin lambs.

“It’s a reasonable difference if you translate that to basic feed principles.”

“If you’re feeding oats you need 1.2kg a day (for the ewe with one lamb) versus 1.5kg a day for the ewe with twins.”

Mrs Rogers says it is an efficient way of managing limited feed supplies or supplementary feed, during times like the present where feed is scarce and prices are increasing.

“In a season like this there’s no better time to be scanning to be able to make informed decisions,” she said.

Using confinement areas for breeding ewes and “identifying passengers versus performers” are other useful management tools for producers, according to Mrs Rogers.

“In a dry year I would identify the breeding ewes that have failed to conceive and make a decision whether to run them as wethers,” she said.

“If you have feed, or depending on how much fleece they have, you could hold onto them as wethers until the next shearing.”

“Or you might eliminate them from the flock because they failed to get in lamb.”

“At lamb marking time, identifying which ones have lambed and lost is another important management tool that helps eliminate the passengers which cost you money.”

“They cost you money in terms of feed and lost production because they’ve actually had higher energy requirements which they’ve put into lambs which haven’t made it to the lamb marking cradle, as well as decreased fleece value from a possible reduction in staple strength.”

Mrs Rogers will outline these and a range of other management options during the southern NSW ‘It’s ewe time!’ forums, funded by Australian Wool Innovation and Meat & Livestock Australia.

As well as being a good day for networking, Mrs Rogers says the forums are a good opportunity to hear a range of speakers cover pertinent topics and provide practical information and advice.

Other speakers include Bruce Watt, Central Tablelands LLS; Matt Playford, Dawbuts; Doug Alcock, Graz Prophet Consulting; Geoff Duddy, Sheep Solutions; Hamish Dickson, AgriPartner Consulting and Simon Vogt, Rural Directions.

Southern NSW It’s ewe time! forums include:

Alpine Hotel, Cooma, NSW: Tuesday 24 July 2018
Gunning Shire Hall, Gunning, NSW: Wednesday 25 July 2018
Cowra Services Club, Cowra, NSW: Thursday 26 July 2018

Source: Making More From Sheep

Featured Image: SheepSMART Solutions Principal Consultant Megan Rogers (pictured above) says eliminating wastage, identifying poor performers, and making management decisions based on ewe pregnancy status and performance are key to a productive flock.

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