Sheep producers have been urged to download the new version of the Sheep Condition Scoring app to help monitor the condition of ewes in late pregnancy to optimise their survival.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development recently enhanced the app, which is a key tool to assist producers to ensure their ewes are condition score 3 by the start of lambing.
Department veterinary officer Danny Roberts said it was important to take every opportunity to monitor the wellbeing of pregnant ewes to ensure their energy intake was adequate during the last 50 days of pregnancy.
“Metabolic disturbance during this time can result in ewe mortalities from pregnancy toxaemia and/or hypocalcaemia, with twin bearing ewes more at risk than single bearing ewes,” Dr Roberts said.
“The best protective measure against these risks is to maintain single bearing ewes above condition score 2.8 and twin bearing ewes above condition score 3 during this period.
“The Sheep Condition Scoring app will help producers to track and record the condition of their ewes during pregnancy, so they can adjust their feed budget accordingly.”
Ewe energy requirements increase slowly during early pregnancy and rapidly increase in the last 50 days before lambing.
Variable seasonal conditions across the agricultural region have created challenges in some districts in maintaining adequate feed and water for pregnant ewes, forcing affected producers to adjust supplementary feed budgets.
Dr Roberts said it was important to provide adequate supplementary feed and water to late pregnant ewes, irrespective of the seasonal conditions.
“Late pregnant ewes require good quality supplementary feed with at least 12 per cent protein and 10 megajoules of energy per kilogram,” he said.
“If feeding cereal grains in the last 50 days of pregnancy, it is advisable to add 1.5 per cent of finely ground limestone to increase calcium intake by ewes.
“In districts that received rain and germination has occurred, it is important not to overestimate the energy intake by late pregnant ewes from the early green feed on offer.
“It is advisable to maintain adequate supplementary feed until sufficient green feed-on-offer satisfies the ewes’ energy requirements.”
Pregnancy scanning provides an opportunity to condition score ewes and adjust ewe management, particularly for twin bearing ewes if there is a delayed break in the season.
_WA Department of Agriculture