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Beyond the Bale : March 2012
31 SELLING MORE WOOL 31 ON-FARM March 2012 BEYOND THE BALE ADVANTAGES l More precise flock and lambing paddock management l More targeted use of feed supplements when economically justified or allocation of dry, single bearing and twin bearing ewes to appropriate feed resources l Targeted management (more shelter and privacy) of twin bearing ewes to protected paddocks to improve lamb survival l Non-pregnant ewes can be run as dry sheep for wool production or culled and sold if feed resources are limited l Basis for careful fodder budgeting and forward planning of pasture utilisation to achieve high reproduction rates and/or target markets l Likely to be most cost effective in drought years or when ewes are mated at low condition score and maidens at low body weight l Lambing mobs with a high proportion of twins can be better managed on pasture in protected paddocks. Where twin-bearing ewes are run seperately from single bearers there could be a saving in supplementary feed costs l May identify where reproductive losses are in the breeding cycle DISADVANTAGES l More mobs to manage and stress of extra handling in some seasons l More labour intensive when scanning and managing for multiple births l Potential for mismothering when twinning mobs are run together under high stocking rates at lambing l Late lambing mob to manage where dry ewes are rejoined and the normal breeding cycle on the farm is disrupted l Potentially an additional and unnecessary cost in low twinning flocks l More precise management required and this may compete with other farm operations l Opportunity cost of scanning and extra labour Pregnancy scanning l Supplementary feeding in late pregnancy to maintain ewes in heavy condition or to increase liveweight is unlikely to be of economic benefit. It can cause an increase in lamb birth weight to the point where dystocia (difficult births) may become a problem. l A tactic may be to increase the pasture quantity available for late pregnancy by deferred grazing in early pregnancy. l Abortions and pasture toxicoses (such as vibrio abortion, onion weed and perennial rye grass toxicosis) occasionally cause major losses during pregnancy and at full term. Investigate any abnormal losses with your animal health adviser. As a guide for spring lambing flocks: l Single bearing ewes need Feed On Offer (FOO) of 700–900 kg green dry matter (DM)/ha and twin lambing ewes a FOO of 1,000–1 ,200 kg green DM/ha during mid-pregnancy. l Manage lambing paddocks to achieve a minimum FOO of 1,200 kg green DM/ha at the start of lambing. A FOO of 1,500 kg green DM/ha is recommended with annual clover-based pastures. l Twin bearing ewes need FOO of 1,800 kg green DM/ha on annual clover- based pastures. l Aim to have identified twin bearing ewes in condition score 3–3.3 at lambing to optimise survival. PREVENTION OF CLOSTRIDIAL DISEASES For maximum protection of young lambs from clostridial diseases (tetanus, black leg, black disease, malignant oedema, pulpy kidney), vaccinate the ewe 2–6 weeks before lambing. Cheesy gland vaccine is incorporated in clostridial vaccine, either as 3-in-1 or 6-in-1. Several companies sell vaccine as either 3-in-1 (pulpy kidney, tetanus, cheesy gland) or 5-in-1 (pulpy kidney, tetanus, black disease, black leg, malignant oedema) or 6-in-1 (clostridial diseases and cheesy gland). Vaccines are also available in combination with vitamin B12 and trace elements such as selenium but should only be used when cobalt or selenium are deficient. PREGNANCY SCANNING EWES Scanning is used to identify multiple pregnancies to better manage twin bearing ewes and to identify and remove barren ewes. Careful consideration needs to be made of the costs and benefits of pregnancy scanning to achieve a management and economic gain in the breeding ewe enterprise (see above). Skilled contractors can scan ewes to age the foetuses conceived either in the first or second cycle. This information can be used to better allocate feed for pregnant ewes and limit the number of ewes in lambing paddocks at one time. TIMING OF ROUTINE HUSBANDRY PRACTICES As a general rule: l Shearing ewes pre-lambing increases ewe feed requirements by 25–30% when shearing coincides with cold winter weather. l In poor growth seasons, being held off-pasture for shearing, results in weight loss in ewes and possibly higher supplementary feed requirements. l If shearing happens to coincide with wet weather there is also greater risk of metabolic problems and pregnancy toxaemia. Ewes in condition score 3 are more able to withstand the effects of cold weather after shearing. l Crutching within four weeks of lambing is a lower risk strategy as ewes are less likely to be held off-pasture for extended periods. l Carry out 6-in-1 vaccination of ewes between 2-6 weeks before lambing. l In areas where ewes require a pre- lambing drench, make it close to lambing to gain the benefit. l Trace element treatments may be given at this time or at shearing or crutching, but this should be discussed with your animal health adviser. l Controlling fox predation is vitally important especially in twinning paddocks. Undertake fox control procedures before lambing commences. In the last 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy there is a greater risk of toxaemia or metabolic syndromes such as hypocalcaemia. This can be off-set by managing routine procedures to minimise stress on ewes. More information: See the Wean More Lambs module of the Making More From Sheep manual at www.makingmorefromsheep.com.au for further tips, and workshops near you. The Making More From Sheep program is an initiative of AWI and MLA.