29 September 2000

Stress free environment for successful tupping

By James Garner

EWE and tup management during and after tupping is critical for flocks seeking good conception rates.

This generally means good forward planning and a stress free environment for ewes, says sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings.

"After flushing and into early pregnancy there should be no sudden changes in diet or environment," says Ms Stubbings, who adds that maiden ewes are most vulnerable to embryo loss.

Nutritional and dietary changes should be avoided. Any abrupt changes in diet, for instance from grass to forage rape in mid-tupping, will cause stress and affect conception rates.

Ewes need to be on a stable diet, neither losing or gaining weight. This may mean some flockmasters in eastern parts supplementing to make up for grass that is losing nutritional value quickly.

"Some big bale silage may be enough. It doesnt want to be too much feed, just a maintenance ration," says Ms Stubbings.

Its the same for ewes post-tupping. "There should be no vaccinating or drenching of ewes and transporting them to keep in livestock trailers until a month after tupping." Ensure all this is done beforehand, she says.

Rams may require some special treatment during tupping and Ms Stubbings suggests feeding tups, but concedes this is not always possible.

"There are benefits if it is possible to hand-feed tups. But where you cant, make sure they are in tip-top condition because they will lose it extremely quickly."

She also reminds producers to isolate bought-in rams from the rest of the flock for a few weeks to check they are free of scab and caseous lymphadenitis.

For those considering whether to raddle tups or not, Ms Stubbings reckons it is worth it. "Change raddle colours as often as you like. It is best to use them to suit your flock and yourself."

Your plan doesnt need to follow traditional lines and could follow other criteria, such as time and number of ewes you want to lamb in one batch.

"It depends what you want and how many ewes you want to lamb in any one time. If this is in groups of 250 ewes and then change colour, then do it that way." She says this makes vaccinating, feeding, housing and lambing far easier to plan.

However, Ms Stubbings also cautions producers to be careful about purchasing free access minerals to boost fertility, without getting vet advice first. "In reality few flocks have mineral deficiencies. If you think you have, then contact your vet and have it sorted out." &#42

TUPPING

&#8226 Stress free environment.

&#8226 Quarantine tups as well.

&#8226 Keep feed the same.