8 December 1995

Dont tup em too early…

BEFORE tupping summer-lambing ewes keep them well away from the ram to prevent them coming to "the boil" too early.

This advice comes from Dr John Vipond, senior sheep specialist at the Scottish Agricultural College, to producers intending to put the rams in this month for May lambing.

No supplementary feeding is required given this years conditions. But wet grass reduces dry matter intake, so ewes should have access to dry silage, whether it be big bale or clamp, as well as some form of shelter for their protection and to keep the forage dry.

Soil analysis will highlight any mineral and vitamin deficiencies. "If cobalt is deficient in the first part of pregnancy, lambs are likely to be weak at birth. Correcting the problem later in the pregnancy has no effect," says Dr Vipond.

Ewes should be in condition score 3 to 3.5 at tupping, he says. Ideally pasture should have been set aside in mid-August to allow for a stocking rate of 25 ewes a hectare (10/acre).

"Rams will be under pressure for ewes breeding cycles are well synchronised now, so allow at least one ram to 40 ewes," says Dr Vipond. "All ewes will be cycling so there will be a tighter lambing pattern. Although fewer lambs are likely to be born, the mortality rate will be lower."