14 February 1997

Analyse forage and feed accordingly to ease risk

FORAGE analysis, and adjusting rations accordingly should help to reduce the incidence of prolapse.

According to Signet sheep specialist Peter Cappon, feeding an excess of poor quality forage adds to the risk of ewe prolapse. Over-fit ewes, and those in high lambing percentage flocks are also more likely to suffer, but he stresses that prolapse risk is not cut and dried.

"Prolapses can occur for a variety of unspecific reasons. But getting forage analysed and feeding accordingly should help, particularly where ewes are kept indoors."

Mid-pregnancy, producers should allow ewes to drop condition slightly, so that they are about condition score three at lambing, he says.

"Many ewes are currently in good condition. I would advise holding that condition on ewes – you do not want them to become over-fat in the latter part of pregnancy."

And where ewes do prolapse, a harness or plastic retainer can be used, or the more traditional method of stitching. "When a ewe has prolapsed, mark her and cull her in the autumn. When a ewe has prolapsed once, she is at a greater risk of doing it again, as the muscles will be weakened." &#42