Ewe Joining

Maximising Your Lamb Production…

Joining Weights – For maximum joining rates the following targets are best used

Merino Maidens: 40-45kg
Merino Ewes: 2½ – 3½ C. Score
Crossbred Maidens: 45-50kg
Crossbred Ewes: 3 – 3½ C. Score

Joining Period – Studies have shown that most ewes join in the first two cycles, and only a small percentage will in the following cycles (in the order of approx. 2-3% each cycle).  The shorter joining period also helps with better ewe & lamb management. 

Scanning – Ewes should be scanned at 85-95 days from the time the rams were put in with the ewes. This allows the best time for viewing as the lambs have developed enough to be effectively seen but are not too large so as to impede view.

Post-Scan – Ewes should be given appropriate feed according to the number of lambs they carry. If not being sold, dry ewes can be joined again for a second management group.

Benefits:

  • Lambing is spread over six week periods for better management and marketing.
  • Ewe maintains maximum nutrition for better lamb health increasing survival rates.
  • More options for effective feed management.
  • We have an increasing number of client who rejoin their empty ewes and then rescan them. Any ewes that are dry this second time around are then sold. We are getting rates between 50 – 90% pregnant on these rescanned ewes. However, these ewes that are rejoined and get in lamb need to be looked after so that they have the opportunity to get back in lamb first time around next year. If not, they should be sold, otherwise your flock fertility could actually go backwards.
  • We have a number of clients who are weaning better than 115% year on year with some getting as high as 130%

Value For Money

It is always our aim to give you value for money. That is why we make suggestions when we initially talk about the scanning procedure to have the sheep off feed for around four (4) hours before scanning.  This may mean overnight.  The ewes are easier to scan when their gut is emptier, which helps us be more accurate.  Some graziers say to us that there is not much feed in the paddocks for them to eat anyway. Well, if that is the case, then it want hurt if they are off feed because they wouldn’t have got anything anyway. (It is very easy to tell when the sheep have not been off feed). All I am trying to say is that if you are spending the money to get a job done, make it that you get the best job, which is what we want to do. We wouldn’t suggest it nor would it be a fairly standard practice if it didn’t help.

Ewe Fat Scores and Pregnancy
Fat scores have a significant impact on the ability for a ewe to fall pregnant, as shown by the following charts:

Fat Scores 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5
Merinos 90 92 93 92 89.5 82.5 64
1st Cross 93 96 97 96 93 84 68

These figures are only indicative and are built from scanning results and observations made by Noble Management Aust Pty Ltd

It can be seen that as soon as the sheep get below a fat score of 2.5, the potential for conceiving and therefore lambs begins to diminish rapidly.

Table taken from the English Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs website and shows similar results, but the results are from scanning multiples.

Table 2. The effect of body condition score at mating on lambing percentage
Type of ewe Body condition score at mating
1 2 3 4
Lambs born per 100 ewes to ram
Hill
Scottish Blackface 79 162
Hill Gritstone 75 103 119 109
Welsh Mountain 60 65 105 116 123
Swaledale 78 133 140 156
Lowland
Gritstone (lowland) 132 154 173
Masham 167 181 215
Mule 147 166 178 194 192
Greyface 147 163 176 189 184
Welsh Half-bred 126 139 150 164 172
Scottish Half-bred 148 170 183 217 202
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