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Dairy or/and meat sheep: Dairy

Source of information: attached leaflet, scientific literature, practice

Level of the solution: Practical

Aim: to lower the loss of ova, embryos and fetuses in dairy ewes


Feeding of pregnant ewes is overall overlooked by farmers who tend to consider the specific needs of pregnancy only in the last week before lambing. This brings about a loss of putative lambs during the early phase of pregnancy. Moreover, the farmers tend to avoid grouping, therefore barren ewes are fed at the same level than ewes bearing twins or triplets. To reduce this inefficiency a three-step process is suggested:

  • Step 1: during the first mating month, mated ewes are marked and identified using rams harnessed with colored pastels. Feeding is aimed at reducing embryo losses, avoiding marked drops in energy and protein levels, adjusting the latter by monitoring milk urea concentration. Heat stress should be prevented offering fresh water and shadowed areas as needed.
  • Step 2: during mid-pregnancy (day 40-50) ewes are scanned to confirm pregnancy, determine expected lambing date and assess litter size. On day 60 after the mating days ewes are BC scored. Ewes with BCS ≤ 2.5 are submitted to a 60 day recovery plan (e.g. + 200 g/day of a pelleted concentrate). Adequacy of diet for CP is checked, taking into account the role of some amino-acids in fetal development.
  • Step 3: on day 100-120 ewes are divided into two groups on the basis of the expected lambing date (“close to lambing” and “far” group) A further group can be set by distinguishing single from double bearing ewes if expected prolificacy is around 1.5. A transitional feeding plan is then applied to the “close” group, gradually increasing the diet nutritional density and supplementing with salts and vitamins (Se and Vit. E, in particular).


Expected benefits: lower loss of ova, embryos and fetuses. Efficient nutrition, better preparation to lambing.

Prerequisites and/or limits (knowledge, training on BCS method, software to key and process BCS data, cost of grouping, cost of extra-supplements.

Tips & Tricks:


Expected impacts:

Stakeholder Perception for Implementation of Solutions

1. Level End-User Assessment (Partner)









Nutrition/grass land management during gestation

Solution No/Name

Focus-feeding of pregnant ewes

Service provider/technicians+vet or farmers

Advisors and farmers


Benefit expected

Increase productivity, fertility, prolificacy, less abortion, better labor organization, better feed management


Is the solution suitable for various production systems


Precise the systems – all types define in the first survey


What are the asset costs

Costs are related to scanning and the time spent to the BCS method training of the farmer


What are the maintenance costs

Costs are related to the work load and depend on the size of the flock


Any limits to its applicability

skill and training on BCS method, costs of grouping animals and extra supplements, good skill of scanning by the vet

Work Load



Service provider/tech.-vet-others

How much time is required to prepare and implement the solution



How many people is needed to implement the solution?

depend on farm organisation


How long it takes to get results?

the length of the gestation

How long it takes to see  an effect on sheep productivity?

next production period




Service provider/technicians-vet-others

What kind of equipment/tool are necessary?

A software to collect BCS data, manage grouping animals and collect scanning results may be useful

scanning equipment

Skill/Knowledge-Training (farmer)

Does the solution need any specific skill/knowledge or training?

skill, training and updating on BCS method

How much time will be required for training

1 week

Wider Environment

Does the solution need any particular structure or organisation?

An extension service system that compare data of different flocks may be useful

Other Comments



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