Tools to Manage Ewes During Gestation

Rob Zelinsky, M.S., Hubbard Feeds Companion Animal Team
(Previously published online: Hubbard Sheep Solutions)

(Image Source: The Fence Post)

Ultrasound Pregnancy Diagnosis


  • Sell open ewes during inflated cull ewe markets
  • Economical feeding (less over and under feeding)
  • Identify ewes with multiple births and feed accordingly


  • Cost
  • Extra ewe handling during pregnancy



  • Lambs find the teats more quickly
  • Ewes udder stays cleaner
  • Existing barns house more shorn ewes than full fleeced ewes
  • Dryer barn
  • Less bedding required
  • In cold seasons, ewes will lamb in the barn
  • Ewes are more agile
  • Monitor condition/udder development of ewes more easily


  • Cold stress
  • Ewes can eat 10-20% more feed in extreme cold weather

Body Condition Score

Assign a number 1-5 based on the amount of condition

  • 1 = Emaciated
  • 3 = Average Body Condition
  • 5 = Obese

Desired Body Condition Levels:

  • Summer: 2.5 to 3
  • Late Gestation: 3.5 to 4.0
  • Lactation maintain: 3

Handle ewes along their spine and across their loin edge to determine a condition score.

Don’t make evaluations based on covering over the ribs.

Sort ewes and feed accordingly for a uniform body condition at parturition by:

  • Age
  • Parity (first-time lambers vs. mature ewes)
  • Body condition score
  • Stage of gestation
  • Number of lambs based on ultrasound
  • Goal of body condition score of 3.5 to 4.0 at lambing

Make use of a feed scale:

  • Minimizes acidosis/overeating
  • Sheep will stay on feed and allow producers to safely reach desired outcome at lambing