Making the most of scanning

Ewe scanning allows us to measure and reflect on how well we have managed the late summer/autumn period and to plan for the months ahead.

Aside from identifying single, twin, triplet and dry animals, scanning is also an excellent time to condition score ewes, take some faecal egg counts (FECs) and measure trace element levels. Scanning is a unique opportunity to condition score each ewe as it is pushed into the scanning crate. Any ewes that are less than condition score three should be identified and removed from the mob for preferential feeding. This provides the best return on investment for feed, around 35c/kgDM. Ewes that lamb in lighter condition produce lambs with less brown fat and less “get up and go”. The ewes produce less colostrum and for a shorter period, this all contributes to lower lamb survival. There is a limited window to lift the condition of these ewes, so it’s important to make the most of it post scanning.

Scanning is also a good time to assess your winter grazing plan and identify if it needs tweaking. Often people unintentionally speed up their rotation and then risk running out of feed in the immediate period prior to lambing. The 35 days prior to lambing are important to ensure that multiple bearing ewes do not lose condition during this period, make sure you have enough feed available during this period.

Taking some FEC samples from lighter ewes is always worthwhile. Often a worm burden isn’t the reason that they are lighter, however it’s good to measure this and know for sure. Taking liver biopsies from cull ewes is an easy way to measure trace element status, especially selenium (Se). Ideally do this every two to three years.

Scanning also signals the time to start planning which products you require to use in the pre-lamb period. There are a range of 5 in 1 vaccines available to cater for everyone’s needs, 1ml or 2ml dose, with or without Se and B12. These should all be used in the two to three weeks prior to lambing.

Nilvax is also a great option for those who want more flexibility around their vaccination timing or if you are concerned about sleepy sickness and yarding too close to lambing. In sensitized animals, Nilvax can be administered two to six weeks pre-lamb and will provide colostral immunity in lambs for up to four months.