9 January 1998

Dry those ewes out before sorting

ENSURE ewes are as dry as possible at housing, and are allowed to dry before sorting.

So cautions independent sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings, who says many ewes are now poaching ground and need feeding, so may as well be brought in to ease management.

Aim to bring ewes in during a dry period. "When the flock is wet and steaming, give sheep as much space as possible to spread out and let them settle for at least 24 hours to avoid extra moisture, before condition scoring, sorting and checking feet," she says.

Where producers house earlier than usual this year, Ms Stubbings advises monitoring body condition to ensure feeding is correct. She warns that high quality silage may be too good to feed ad lib for a long period of housing. "When feeding has not begun outside, younger ewes may take up to a week to start eating. These should be managed as a separate group but run with a few older ewes to show them what to do."

Adequate trough space is needed; a minimum of 45cm (18in) for ewes in full fleece, and more nearer lambing. When short of trough space consider floor feeding.

When ewes with foot rot are identified, and housing will be for longer than usual, pen them in a separate group to avoid disease spread, she cautions. &#42