Shelby Filley, Oregon State University, Regional Livestock and Forage
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension page: April, 2018)
Do you have your ewes nutritionally prepared for lambing and lactation? If not, that’s okay! There is still plenty of time to get this important task accomplished. Learn to put a nutrition plan in place early in the season so you can decrease problems with your ewes later.
Two phases of the ewe’s biological cycle need special dietary consideration when it comes to lambing:
- The first phase is the last four to six weeks of pregnancy, when 70% of fetal lamb growth occurs. In this late gestation period, ewes require significantly more dietary energy and protein than earlier in pregnancy. A good plane of nutrition here will help ensure that strong, healthy lambs are more easily delivered and have a good start in life. Ewes in poor nutritional condition are more susceptible to pregnancy toxemia, and may have weaker, lighter birth weight lambs to the point that lamb survival rate drops.
- The second phase of the ewe’s biological cycle for nutritional consideration is during lactation, especially during the first six to eight weeks after lambing when milk production is high. This is the time when the ewe has the greatest nutrient requirements for energy and protein.