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Scanners' Top Tips!
Over the past 40 years sheep farmers have seen the benefits of scanning ewes in mid pregnancy. The benefits of scanning sheep are significant and help the farmer manage his flock’s health and nutrition. Ewes scanned with multiples can be fed concentrates according to their needs and ewes scanned with singles can be fed less in proportion to their needs. Scanning is also invaluable for detecting ewes that are not pregnant, these ewes can either be turned out to grass and require no further feeding or can be sold as barren ewes generating some income during a very costly period when most of the sheep’s feed has to be bought in. Scanning can detect health issues with ewes and unborn lambs and can also establish whether the ewe will lamb early or late in the lambing season therefore enabling the shepherd to manage his time and concentrate on ewes as they become due to lamb.
On our social media, we have been running a scanners campaign, where we featured a new scanner every week over a 3-month period. Each scanner would share their “Top Tips” to a successful scanning and lambing period. See below their helpful words:
- “Although we do blood test we realise that this will only show us the mineral status of the animal at that point in time and won’t reflect on what the levels are likely to be on different ground and at different times in the year. Bolusing saves us time and is our insurance policy against the peaks and troughs in their mineral levels” – Phil Preece, South Shropshire.
- “Help your scanner by getting your ewes in on time and ensure that they’re not full of grass”, this helps him to be more accurate and gets him away to his next appointment on time – Gareth Jones, Penmachno, North Wales.
- “Plan ahead after scanning in order to keep as many of those lambs alive and off to market. From birth to 3 weeks old is a high mortality risk time for lambs so they need to be born strong. They need get up and suck as quick as possible and they need good levels of selenium and iodine for this to happen. That is why so many farmers bolus in the week or two after scanning nowadays so the ewe can pass the trace elements on to the lamb during pregnancy so that it’s up and kicking as soon as its born” Brother Scanning team, John and Russell Davies, Presteigne, Powys.
- “The condition of your ewes at weaning will have an effect on your scanning numbers. It’s very important to condition score them at that time and manage their condition from weaning to tupping. Thin ewes never crop well so need to be fed up to optimum condition and fatter ewes need to be slimmed down.” – Aled Preece, Llandrindod Wells, Powys.
- “When I’ve finished scanning and given you the percentages then it’s over to you, what you do from then on is critical to a successful lambing and keeping as many of those scanned lambs alive. Nutrition and trace element supply are vital especially if you depend on grass and silage and only feed concentrates in the last few weeks before lambing. Bolusing just after scanning is your insurance against the ups and downs that will happen in the ewe’s trace element intake during pregnancy and will support the ewe and her lambs all the way through to weaning. Control of parasites and diseases is also hugely important so have a plan in place that you’ve discussed with your vet and SQPs.” – Hedd Davies, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire.
- “Please be ready and prepared for when the scanner turns up, plan the day in advance and have plenty of staff at hand. Scanners have a very tight schedule, a lot of miles to drive and a lot of clients to visit so a hold up can set us back hours in a day” – Alwyn Manzini, Corwen, North Wales.
- “ Pay attention to the condition of your ewes before tupping and make sure that they are fit and on a rising plane of nutrition when the rams go in. Bolusing a month pre tupping will help their nutrition no end and will hopefully lead to multiple embryos being developed. Don’t forget to bolus the rams, they’re half your flock, bolusing them two months before they go to work will raise their selenium levels and that will boost viable semen and make them more fertile. This will help keep barren ewes to a minimum” – Ollie Davies, Presteigne, Mid Wales.
- “Knowledge is so valuable, knowing how many ewes carry twins, singles triplets etc. allows you to plan and prepare for lambing therefore keeping more lambs alive and saving on feed, bedding and time. Nutrition is absolutely vital, sheep that come under stress due to weather, poor diet, rough handling and disease etc. can reabsorb foetuses up to 100 days old. So many shepherds are bolusing at mid pregnancy nowadays in order to maintain trace element levels which are so fundamental in the development of the foetus and also help keep the sheep and unborn lambs fit and healthy.” – Gill Tustain, Corwen, North Wales.
- “Timing can be very important, the optimum window for accuracy for scanning sheep is 85 days after conception and between 6 weeks and 3 months for cattle. Once scanned nutrition is massively important so bolusing just after scanning will take the ewe and unborn lambs all the way through to weaning” – Mark Tustain, Corwen, North Wales.
- “It’s all about the ewe’s condition pre tupping to lambing, get that right and you’re setting yourself up for a successful lambing. Thin ewes will not crop well and neither will fat ones so condition management throughout is massively important. I scan a lot of sheep that have grazed on brassicas i.e. turnips, swedes, beet etc. during pregnancy, this is great but as these crops block iodine to an extent then the sheep need to be supplemented as iodine is so important for foetus development and a strong born lamb.” – Brian Sankey, Herefordshire.
- “As the other scanning boys have already said, nutrition is very important, you can only get out what you put in. Bolusing with Smartrace Sheep will keep the minerals topped up in the ewe no matter what else is going on in her life. Genetics is also very important for a successful sheep farm and choosing the right breeds and genes for the right farm, area and altitude will pay off time and time again. I’ve also found that keeping the first cross ewe lamb from a mule ewe and any terminal sire as a replacement will work fine, they’ll scan O.K. but don’t cross that lamb with a terminal sire again or your percentage may drop dramatically.” – Richard Lewis AKA Dicky Lew, Radnorshire/Herefordshire.
If you want to be featured on our scanning campaign Dec 2021 – Feb 2022, let us know by dropping us a message on one of our social platforms. Find us on Facebook (Agrimin Ltd.), Instagram (@agrimin247), Twitter (@Agrimin247) or LinkedIn (Agrimin Ltd).