Managing the ewes ensures optimal growth of the lambs

Sheep farming

The period around lambing is crucial for sheep farms. For optimal sheep production, the period immediately before lambing and the first few weeks after the lambs are born is key. Managing the energy and calcium metabolism of the ewe correctly is important to ensure production of good quality colostrum and an optimal start of milk production, key factors for successful lamb farming.

Lamb rearing

Lamb farming will be successful if lambs remain healthy and grow well. An easy lambing process and good supply of excellent quality colostrum during the first hours of life should give the newborn lamb the perfect start. Milk production of the ewe should be maximised, leading to optimal growth of the lambs during the first few months of their lives.

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Ewe around lambing

Managing the body condition of ewes during the period prior to lambing is crucial. If ewes become too fat, lambing becomes difficult, and feed intake will be reduced, resulting in metabolic problems and low milk production. Ewes carrying a single lamb are at particular risk of becoming too fat.

Ewes carrying twins or triplets require a higher energy intake to support the lambs, but at the same time the lambs take up a lot of room, allowing less space for the rumen and potentially reducing the intake of feed. As a result, these ewes are at serious risk of developing ketosis prior to giving birth.

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Sheep facts

  • Ketosis or twin lamb disease in sheep is very different from ketosis in cattle; it occurs before lambing
  • Milk fever in sheep has symptoms similar to ketosis, but the onset is more rapid
  • Ketosis and milk fever can occur concurrently
  • Having a different feeding regime for ewes carrying twins or triplets compared to ewes carrying a single lamb will reduce the risk of developing ketosis 

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