February 21, 2018

Scanning our sheep for lambs

It almost goes without saying that good care and management of our sheep throughout pregnancy can avoid many problems and result in healthier lambs.

The average pregnancy lasts roughly 5 months and just like women, we have all of our sheep scanned, but many people are surprised at how technical this is.  So here’s a little information about how and why we do it.

How do we scan?

Between 70 – 80 days is the ideal time to pregnancy scan the ewes.  The scanning lady comes to the farm and all of the sheep walk through her scanning booth.  Using ultra sound, she identifies how many lambs the ewe is carrying.  These are then marked, red is for singles, no mark is twins, green is for triplets.  She also identifies if the ewe is barren ( not in lamb) and occasionally we also have those with four lambs!  All of the sheep are then put into separate fields accordingly so that we can manage their feed going forward.

Why do we scan?

There are a number of reasons for scanning:  firstly, to detect pregnancy.  Ewes that are scanned with twins or triplets can be monitored and fed accordingly.  Those with triplets need to be fed smaller quantities more often than those with singles or twins as their stomach capacity is smaller due to the pressure from the three lambs.  It is essential to feed more frequently so that the ewe can convert her food frequently for her lambs nutrition.  Those with singles, need less food, otherwise we end up with lambs that are too large, and often difficulties at lambing time.  If any ewes scan for triplets, we can plan to ‘wet’ foster the 3rd lamb onto another ewe that’s due to have a single at around the same time.  Finally, if we need to assist in the lambing, we know how many lambs to expect, which helps when you’re trying to identify which legs, tails and heads belong to which lamb!

To find out more, please do come to our open day on the 24th March where you will hopefully see some lambs born.