With most people having lambs on the ground it is time to think about weaning lambs, and the importance of making sure lambs are set up for weaning and ewes are being prepared for joining.
PREPARATION FOR WEANING
Small increases in weaning weight will make a profound difference to weaner survival. For example, a 14kg weaner has a 34% lower mortality risk than a 12kg weaner, whereas a 20kg weaner has a 22% lower mortality risk than an 18kg weaner.
STRATEGY TO MAKE SURE LAMBS ARE SET UP FOR WEANING
Make sure ewes and lambs are receiving correct nutrition. There may be a need to look at an option such as ‘creep feeders’ in paddocks so lambs are not competing with ewes for feed.
’Imprint feed’ ewes and lambs if they have never received grain before, so they know what grain is if they need to be fed after weaning.
Carry out faecal egg counts before lamb marking, to make sure that there are no parasite issues impeding growth. Follow up with drenching if required.
1st vaccinations should be carried out at lamb marking.
Making sure roughage is available, when stock is short on green lush grass, as well as providing mineral supplements when required. This will assist in maximising growth and improve rumen function and development.
Select weaning paddocks and try to build good feed wedge early in these paddocks to maximise lamb growth after weaning.
Make sure stock are up to date with vaccination requirements.
Make sure ewes and lambs are free of worms at the point of weaning.
Consider at this point using a long-acting fly treatment such as ‘Clik Extra’ giving up to 28 weeks fly protection on ewes and lambs. This may help to ease management of stock (knowing that during harvest and crop spraying your stock are already treated) and minimising losses, as well as avoiding the need to re-yard stock at a later date during these times.
IMPORTANCE OF WEANER NUTRIENTS
Small increases in the monthly growth rates for weaners can dramatically reduce mortality rates, e.g., an increase of 0.25-0.5kg/month can reduce the mortality risk by 74%.
Faster growing and heavier weaners accumulate more body reserves that they can use if required.Source: ‘MLA making more from sheep’.
Making sure that stock is on a rising plane of nutrition is important to profitability. Having a rising plane of nutrition will get more lambs to market and set up young stock entering the breeding flock to be profitable for the rest of their lives.
MANAGING EWES AFTER WEANING
Weaning provides a good opportunity to assess the body condition of ewes when they are in the yards. Putting ewes into mobs based on condition score may help to minimise feeding ewes in good condition, while only feeding light ewes will get these ewes back into condition score 3. This will help to maximise the number of ewes that will get back into lamb and have twins, whilst only feeding ewes that require feeding.