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Country: Ireland

Dairy or/and meat sheep: Meat

Level of solution:






Just Being Tested


Aim: To present the benefits of pregnancy scanning on nutrition management of pregnant ewes


  • The energy requirement of single, twin and triplet bearing ewes increases by 40, 60 and 70 %, respectively, during the final 6 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Ultrasonic pregnancy scanning accurately determines litter size of each ewe; the optimum time for scanning is approximately 80 days post ram introduction.
  • Concentrate supplementation in late pregnancy depends on expected litter size.
  • Knowing expected lambing date (as detected by raddle colour) and expected litter size reduces flock concentrate requirement by:
  1. grouping ewes according to litter size and  lambing date.
  2. removal of barren ewes.

Expected benefits:

  • Targeted concentrate supplementation to ewes with larger litters ensures ewes have adequate colostrum, lambs are born at optimum birth weight and reduces lamb mortality

Prerequisites and/or limits:

  • Requires scanning equipment and trained operator.
  • Facilities required for grouping of ewes for targeted feeding.


Scientific basis:

Holst PJ Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 37(6) 647 – 655

Rook Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice 2000 16(2) : 293-317

Munoz et al Animal. 2008 Jan;2(1):52-63.

Keady T.W.J. 2017. Nutrition of ewes during late pregnancy. Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Athenry, Co Galway.

Keady, T.W.J., Hanrahan,  J.P.  2010. An evaluation of the effect of grass silage and concentrate feed level on ewe and subsequent progeny performance and on the potential concentrate sparing effect. Advances in biosciences. Pp 38.

Keady, T.W.J., Hanrahan, S., Marley, C., & Scollan, N. (2013). Production and utilization of ensiled forages by beef cattle, dairy cows, pregnant ewes and finishing lambs – A review. Agricultural and Food Science, 22(1), 70-92.

Keady, T.W.J. and Hanrahan, S., 2018. Prime lamb production over 12 years of a rotational grazing system-effect of birth and reading type on lamb performance. Advances in animal biosciences. 9:57.


Tips and Tricks:

Ewe nutrition for optimum lamb birth weight
Producing high feed value silage
Lambing data
Using yokes for BCS grouping
Tasting lupin seed


Level 1 assessment


Benefit expected less abortion
less workload
better labor organisation
better feed management
less stress for the farmer 
Is the solution suitable for various production systems Y
If no – for which system  
What are the asset costs <100
What are the maintenance costs <50
Any limits to its applicability Requires pregnancy scanning and animal penning for different litter sizes
Work Load
  Farmers Service provider/tech.-vet-others
How much time is required to prepare and implement the solution   <1 day
How many people is needed to implement the solution?   One
How long it takes to get results? Immediate
How long it takes to see  an effect on sheep productivity? Current production period
  Farmers Service provider/technicians-vet-others
What kind of equipment/tool are necessary? Animal penning Pregnancy scanning
Skill/Knowledge-Training (farmer)
Does the solution need any specific skill/knowledge or training? Understanding the energy requirement according to litter size
How much time will be required for training Approx one hour
Wider Environment
Is there any particular regulation link to the solution? no
Does the solution need any particular structure or organisation? no




Level 2 assessment




Solution No/Name

 26/Nutritional management according to litter size

Farmer/Service provider/technicians-vet-others



Why did you select this solution?

 To increase flock health and better parturition

Was it easy to implement?


If not say what are the identified drawbacks?


Did you need to adapt it?


If yes, how?


Were you happy with the outcome of the solution?


What were the outcomes?

Better feed planning and healthy parturition

Score the solution

Interesting and easy to implement

Will you continue to implement it?


If not, for which reasons?



It is sometimes difficult to find experienced person in scanning for good rate.


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