Simple lambing score system can pay off

Investing in new genetics from easier-care breeds may be in vogue, but it may be unnecessary when farmers are willing to invest time in recording.

SAC sheep specialist John Vipond says taking time to run a simple recording system at lambing can pay dividends.

“When you intervene and save a life mark the animal and do not keep its progeny.

“Interventions that occur outside of normal gatherings are recorded and should include assistance at lambing, assistance to suckle, prolapse, excessive dags and repeated footrot.”

Ewes experiencing any of these problems should be marked by ear notching, notching of flag-type tags or putting an elastrator ring around a pin-type tag.

“Farmers can devise their own system and cull as hard as necessary, depending on how fast they want progress to be.”

For a simple system, Mr Vipond recommends using scores from -1 to +1, which can easily help identify replacement sheep that will not require intervention at lambing (see table). Basically, no sheep with a minus mark should be retained.

“A sensible approach is to recognise that an unassisted lambing has components from both the ewe and the lamb, so record lambing ease, mothering ability and lamb vigour,” he adds.