4 September 1998

Ewe selection pointers

LOW cull ewe prices mean producers may be tempted to keep older ewes, but careful selection is vital.

So says Peter Fairbank, Oxon-based Signet consultant. "There wasnt a premium for selling cull ewes in the retention period last year, so lambing old ewes early isnt important now," he says.

"But there are management points to consider if you mate old ewes. Select them wisely, they need to be in good body condition and have a fit udder," he adds.

"Choose winter feed carefully. Stubble turnips can be a problem as old ewes dont have good teeth to eat the bulb. Sugar beet tops are fine, as is good quality silage."

He urges checking forage quality to see how much concentrate to feed. Where ewes lose condition, youve over-estimated quality and more concentrate should be fed.

"Lambing old ewes needs good stockmanship and flexibility. Be prepared to change their ration when they lose condition and avoid health challenges – be on top of worms and routine vaccinations."