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Now is the time to manage ewes for lambing success

Proactively managing bred ewes can help producers ensure a successful lambing season.

After a mild fall and hopefully prosperous breeding season, many sheep producers are turning their attention to lambing season, says Travis Hoffman, North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota Extension sheep specialist.

Proactively managing bred ewes can help producers ensure a successful lambing season.

“Prices of feeder and slaughter lambs have held strong this fall, but it is time to turn to the next chapter,” says Hoffman. “A primary concern as we transition to winter months is feed resources and identifying expected grain and forage requirements for pregnant ewes.”

Producers should evaluate whether they have raised or purchased enough hay for the duration of winter, advises Hoffman.

Other management considerations include assessing body condition scores, pregnancy checking, shearing and hoof maintenance. Hoffman offers this advice:

  • Now is a good time to evaluate the body condition scores of ewes to determine current status. Identify ewes that are thinner than preferred. Separate the thin ewes from the rest of the flock and provide supplementation to help them get caught up physiologically prior to the increased feed requirements of mid- and late-pregnancy.
  • Additionally, producers can consider utilizing pregnancy checking to diagnose bred or open females and fetus number to expect at lambing. This information can help producers save feed resources on single-carrying ewes, while providing greater feed resources to multiple-carrying ewes to nutritionally prepare them for lambing.
  • Sheep producers should also begin planning for shearing, based on when they lamb. Now is a good time to connect with your shearer and determine a shearing date.
  • Shearing time can be a good time to evaluate hoof maintenance. As each ewe is being handled for shearing, take the time to trim hooves for pro-active care.
  • Also, do not forget to balance the diet with salt and mineral supplementation.

Soon it will be time to get lambing pens set up for the 2024 lamb crop, but now is a great time to think about how we can positively impact our ewe flock for future success.

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Nov. 30, 2023

Source: Travis Hoffman, 701-231-2222, travis.w.hoffman@ndsu.edu

Editor: Kelli Anderson, 701-231-7006, kelli.c.anderson@ndsu.edu

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