15 January 1999

Warning over high lamb percentages

EARLY indications suggest that lambing percentages across the country are variable, depending on weather and ewe conditions at tupping. But those facing high percentages should start preparing for a trouble-free lambing now.

Producers, who have scanned high lambing percentages – over 200% – must separate triplet bearing and thin ewes to begin feeding now, ensuring problems are avoided later in pregnancy, says Northants-based consultant Lesley Stubbings.

Where lambing percentages are above 200%, plan ahead to ensure good organisation at lambing time, says Ms Stubbings. "February and March lambing flocks are not going to make any money rearing triplet lambs artificially, as it will cost £15/lamb in milk powder alone and this is uneconomic.

"As many lambs as possible will need to be fostered, although in some cases it might be possible to sell some orphan lambs to other farms or smallholdings."

Signet consultant Maurice Jones adds:"Where ewes are being left to rear triplets, keep them separate from other ewes and budget to feed them concentrate at grass for an extra 14 days. Additionally, give lambs creep feed to take some pressure off ewes.

"Where there are several sets of triplets it might be an idea to wean one lamb onto grass and creep to allow ewes to recover before too late," he says.