The importance of the pre-tupping dose
Pre-tupping is the first part of the puzzle and cannot be taken lightly, any short comings at this time of the year cannot be made up down the line. With the long days now at their peak, the ewes will start to produce a large quantity of hormones and a high nutritional plain at this time is a must to ensure they are prolific through the mating season.
Don’t forget the ram
It is very easy to forget the ram, as all the attention goes on keeping the ewes in peak physical and nutritional condition. Remember the ram is 50 per cent of what influences the performance on next season’s crop of lambs. A good practice is to body condition score (BCS) rams around six weeks prior to tupping, as this is when they will start to produce enough quality semen for the upcoming season. One key point to note is that ram nutrition should also be monitored and maintained throughout tupping as rams can lose up to 15% of their body weight through the mating season.
Prior to mating ewes are given access to highly nutritional pastures or feed. This is known as ‘flushing’ the idea is to increase the bodies’ levels of key ingredients to gain a higher level of ovulation and health. This in turn will increase the chances of more pregnancies and lambs. Across the country no two fields will contain the same level of minerals and trace elements, due to the vast differences in terrain, landscapes and variable weather conditions.
Additional supplementation is important
Due to multiple factors around this time of the season, (grass quality, BCS, sheep health, disease pressure and weather) the ewes and rams will not be able to maximise their nutritional needs for peak performance from the grass alone.
Most nutritional disorders are due to excess, deficiencies or imbalances between individual nutrients and in particular minerals, trace elements and vitamins. A few minerals and vitamins are of special interest during mating and throughout pregnancy because they play an important role in ovulation, embryo development and placental growth.
- Selenium in combination with vitamin E are known to have a positive effect on fertility by improving ovulation rates. Supplementing rams 12 weeks pre-mating helps larger numbers of ewes conceive.
- Research has shown that selenium is a critical component of the tail of sperm cells, supporting sperm mobility.
- Unborn lambs rely on nutrient flow from the ewe during pregnancy; vitamin E deficiencies may reduce lamb vigour at birth.
- Cobalt is a component of vitamin B12, which is produced by micro-organisms in the rumen. Vitamin B12 is essential in the energy metabolism of the ewe and deficiency can lead to reduced feed intake which can lead to poor performance of the ewes.
Having hands on your flock at this time to ‘MOT’ them, provides you with an ideal opportunity to fully examine every sheep, and supplement them at the same time. Optigain is an easy-to-administer liquid supplement that provides an accurate dose every time. The rapid accurate dosing (RAD) technology, ensures 100 per cent confidence that every sheep has had the full supplement.