Top tips for winter lambing

Top tips for winter lambing

News
Achiveing a successful winter lambing is possible with a lambing plan, according to Jim Meckiff.

Achiveing a successful winter lambing is possible with a lambing plan, according to Jim Meckiff.

Aa

Jim Meckiff advised keeping ewes 'fit not fat' prior to winter lambing

Aa

'Successful winter lambing' was the topic addressed by Jim Meckiff, JM Livestock, Wagga Wagga on the Sheep Connect webinar.

"Keep the ewes fit not fat," Mr Meckiff advised producers.

Setting up for a successful winter lambing relies on having a lambing plan and without a plan Mr Meckiff said producers have lots of excuses if their lambing hasn't been as good as they wanted.

He highlighted many factors which affect a successful lambing including keeping a record of why things went well, or not: a good season obviously helps, time of lambing and pregnancy scanning is essential and shelter which goes a long way to lamb survival.

"If we get the survival rate for twin lambs high then we have the potential for a very high weaning percentage," Mr Meckiff said.

"Birth weight is really important because the thermal mass of an optimally sized lamb, like a five and half kilo lamb born as a single has a better chance of survival."

Jim Meckiff with his daughter Mabel with Poll Dorset lambs at Muttama. Photo: Jim Meckiff

Jim Meckiff with his daughter Mabel with Poll Dorset lambs at Muttama. Photo: Jim Meckiff

Shelter for lambing ewes is a critical point during winter lambing when light weight lambs are especially at risk from exposure to cold and wet wind.

From research done at the EverGraze site in Victoria Mr Meckiff noted ewes with condition score for optimum birthweight, optimum available pasture on the birth site and optimum stocking rate plus effective shelter allowed an extra 15 percent lamb survival when compared to same conditioned ewes on same pasture but without adequate shelter.

"That was in Merino and crossbred lambs, so obviously the benefit will be far greater for the Merino twinners than a crossbred terminal single lamb," he said.

Other management strategies Mr Meckiff addressed included the use of snow combs especially on the tablelands if you are shearing prior to lambing.

"We want the ewe to bond with the lamb, not abandon it in order to seek shelter because she is cold," he said.

"Avoid as much as possible any stress on the ewe by drenching, crutching and vaccinating at least two weeks prior to lambing and also avoid walking ewes through wet and muddy yards."

In conclusion, Mr Meckiff said differential management is essential for twin-bearing ewes and getting the condition score of those ewes by .3 to .5 above the condition score for single-bearing ewes is advisable.

"But don't get them to fat because you will end with just as many issues with pregnancy toxemia," he said.

"Prioritise you lambing paddocks by having a plan in place where the best ones are allocated to the twin-bearing ewes."

Avoid disturbing lambing ewes as much as possible and wean at 12 weeks, Mr Meckiff suggested.

"Don't let the weaning linger, we want to set the ewes up for the highest possible conception rate," he said.

Have you signed up to The Land's free daily newsletter? Register below to make sure you are up to date with everything that's important to NSW agriculture.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by