Feed availability – if the availability of good quality forage or grazing is restricted, it’s a good idea to wean early to prioritise the lambs. If you have plenty of good grazing you can wean later as ewes and lambs are not competing for feed.
Lamb growth rates – if these drop under 200g per day on average it is a good idea to wean and get the lambs onto your best quality grazing. However, have a chat with us as underlying disease issues can also affect growth rates.
What to look out for immediately after weaning
Mastitis in ewes – keep ewes on extremely restricted grazing for the first 7-10 days post weaning, or until udder size reduces. Examine udders carefully when checking stock – swelling or hardening of one or both sides could indicate mastitis.
Stress related disease in lambs – weaning is a stressful event, and as a result lambs may have reduced immunity during this time. Most frequently, this can be seen as an increase in worm burden. Moving lambs to clean pastures (e.g. hay/silage aftermaths) at weaning can help to mitigate this. As always, drop in a fecal sample to us to get a clearer picture of the lambs’ status.
Growth check – a small growth check is natural at weaning. It may therefore be worth keeping any lambs that are fit/almost fit on the ewes until they go for slaughter.
Minerals – once weaned, lambs are no longer getting minerals through the ewes’ milk so they will need supplementing separately. This is most often a problem with cobalt/B12 – deficiency of which causes poor growth and coat quality. Lambs can be supplemented in a number of ways, including drenches, boluses or injections.