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Aim: to recover body condition in milked ewes in view of the mating


  • Lactating and milked ewes deplete their body condition during the first months of lactation when energy exported in milk overtakes energy intake.
  • If body reserves of fat and protein are not recovered by the time of the beginning of mating, the concentration of lambings in targeted periods and fertility rate are at risk. To reduce this inefficiency it is suggested to assess ewe body condition at least three times before mating:
  • BCS1: during mid-lactation (day in milk: 60) ewes are BC scored. Ewes with BCS < 2.5 are submitted to a 60-day recovery plan (e.g. + 200 g/day of maize grain up to mating or AI).
  • BCS2: ewes are scored again three weeks before mating or AI. If ewes score around 2.5, they are submitted to dietary flushing, the length and type of flushing depending on the availability and quality of pasture (see the solution: Feeding for reproductive efficiency: body condition recovery and flushing).
  • BCS3: at the introduction of rams or at the AI to check the effect of previous nutrition on ewe body condition.

Expected benefits: Increased fertility, the concentration of lambings and prolificacy.

Prerequisites and/or limits: knowledge, training on BCS method, software to key and process BCS data and for grouping of animals. To this end, a prototype of a smart-phone based system to process BCS data coupled with ewe ID has been developed by “Sementusa” private firm in Sardinia and is nowadays under a validation procedure.


Lassoued, N., Rekik, M., & Ben Salem, H. (2009). Influence of supplementary feeding and the ram effect on conception rate of Barbarine ewes during spring mating. Options Méditerranéennes. Séries A, (85), 405–409. Retrieved from

Scaramuzzi, R. J., Oujagir, L., Menassol, J. B., Freret, S., Piezel, A., Brown, H. M., … Fabre Nys, C. (2014). The pattern of LH secretion and the ovarian response to the “ram effect” in the anoestrous ewe is influenced by body condition but not by short-term nutritional supplementation. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 26(8), 1154–1165.

Munoz, C., Carson, A. F., McCoy, M. A., Dawson, L. E. R., O’Connell, N. E., & Gordon, A. W. (2009). Effect of plane of nutrition of 1-and 2-year-old ewes in early and mid-pregnancy on ewe reproduction and offspring performance up to weaning. Animal, 3(05), 657–669.

Burke, J. M., Jackson, W. G., & Robson, G. A. (2002). Seasonal changes in body weight and condition, and pregnancy and lambing rates of sheep on endophyte-infected tall fescue in the south-eastern United States. Small Ruminant Research, 44(2), 141–151.

Tips & Tricks

Body condition score

Smartphone recording tool

Using yokes for BCS grouping

Calibrating buckets

Tasting lupin seeds

BCS grid for dairy sheep

Sentinel breeds to monitor BCS

Use of technology for productivity

Expected impacts:

Stakeholder Perception for Implementation of Solutions

1. Level End-User Assessment (Partner)









Body condition score (BCS) during reproduction

Solution No/Name

Managing ewe body condition for a successful mating

Service provider/technicians+vet or farmers




Benefit expected

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


Is the solution suitable for various production systems


Precise the systems – all types define in the first survey

If no – for which system




What are the asset costs

Costs are related to the time spent to the 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

Work Load



Service provider/tech.-vet-others

How much time is required to prepare and implement the solution

>=1 week

>=1 week

How many people is needed to implement the solution?

depend on farm organisation


How long it takes to get results?

from mating to lambing

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 and manage grouping animals may be useful

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

Is there any particular regulation link to the solution?


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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