26 December 1997

Handle ewes in wet

WET weather during December means sheep producers should handle ewes to ensure they are in adequate condition, and introduce supplements if necessary.

According to ADAS nutritionist Pete Kelly, ewes grazing in wet, cold weather may lose condition before housing due to insufficient dry matter intake. "A small loss in condition – no more than half a point – is acceptable, but ewes must not be allowed to fall below 2.5."

He advises handling ewes to assess condition. "Do not rely on eyes, they may look well, but underneath all that wool they may be in poorer condition than you think."

He says forage such as silage or hay, cereals or feed blocks should be introduced. "Aim to maintain condition up until housing. It is difficult to make ewes gain condition once they have lost it."

Mr Kelly recommends feeding cereals to older, broken mouthed ewes earlier than the rest of the flock. "Feeding concentrate 12 weeks before lambing will reduce risk of concerns such as twin lamb disease." &#42