Managing ewes in the final trimester

Throughout the first three months of pregnancy, a ewe’s nutritional requirements do not greatly increase above that for maintenance, however going into the final six weeks, her demands sky rocket in line with the 70% of foetal growth that occurs during this short period.

Therefore matching nutritional intakes to scanning results is paramount when feeding ewes in the final trimester.  Single bearing ewes only require 60% of the energy and protein demands, compared to ewes carrying twins. However, for ewes carrying triplets, nutritional requirements are 25% higher than ewes supporting doubles!

Tupping can be considered as one of the most critical times of the sheep production cycle,

The physical restrictions of the lambs the ewe is carrying on the rumen limit dry matter intake, consequently the ration she is fed needs to become more concentrated and supply different nutrients.

Energy is one of the most important nutrients to consider in the ration, and even more so during late pregnancy when extra energy is required for growth of the lamb and placenta, plus that for development of mammary tissue, an adequate supply of colostrum and extra maintenance of the ewe herself.  Where dietary energy supply is lacking, the ewe will mobilise body fat as a method of assuring adequate energy.   The problem occurs when the ewe is in negative energy balance.  She is already mobilising body fat to try to satisfy her own energy requirements and this increased mobilisation to satisfy the demands of the lambs she is carrying can lead to twin lamb disease and overwhelm her liver’s capacity to process the mobilised fat, resulting in fatty liver with subsequent impairment of liver function.

Ewes with a poor body condition score (BCS ≤2.0) or those that are over conditioned (BCS ≥4.0) and carrying more than one lamb are most at risk of twin lamb. The majority of cases develop within 1-3 weeks of lambing.

First signs that ewes may be suffering from twin lamb disease include ewes hanging back at feeding, listlessness, aimlessly walking around, muscle twitching or muscle tremors and grinding of the teeth.   As the disease progresses (generally over 2-4 days), blindness, immobility and finally recumbency followed by coma, and death may occur.

To be effective, appropriate treatment must be given early. Downland Keto Pro is the ideal product at pre and during the lambing period when the glucose requirement is high but dry matter intake is utilised by the lambs the ewe is carrying.  Keto Pro is a unique fermentation – based product with trace elements, vitamins supporting rumen and liver functions.

Keto Pro

Administer 45ml of Keto Pro at the first signs of the onset of Ketosis and energy deficiency. For ewes that show persistent signs of lethargy pre or post lambing administer a further 45ml of Keto pro four hours after the first feed. Each 2.5 litre will deliver 55 feeds.

For further information on Keto Pro click here

24th January 2020