Lifetime Wool - more lambs, better wool, healthy ewes
  High Rainfall Sheep Zone - Victoria

This zone is characterised by long growing season and winter rainfall (>550mm) with a mix of annual grasses, perennial rye-grasses and sub clover and a total pasture production of 6-8t/ha.

The long growing season and high production affects the potential stocking rate and pasture utilisation and therefore affects the recommendations for ewe management. 

Details on alternative management targets and the cost of missing production targets can be found in the economics section .The economic analysis that supports these recommendations is generated using the Western Victoria MIDAS model.  Download the full report of the modelling for this region  (250kB PDF)

Late winter-spring lambing provides the best match of pasture availability to the energy needs of the ewe and lamb. This match can allow more sheep to be run relative to lambing at other times of the year.  

The optimum profile for spring lambing flocks in the High Rainfall Zone (HRZ)   as seen in Figure 1 is:

  1. to allow moderate loss of condition from joining to 'break of season', provided the condition can be regained prior to lambing on green feed
  2. aim for Condition Score 3 at joining

The most important target for ewe flocks is to regain condition lost in early pregnancy before lambing commences.  Meeting this target gives the optimum profitability.

 


Figure 1.

 

 (click on image for a print version )
 

Ewes can lose some condition (0.3 of a condition score) over early pregnancy, however, they must regain all condition lost in early pregnancy by lambing.  Failing to meet the lambing target will decrease the value of the ewe's production by $16 per condition score. It costs at least $12/ewe to gain a condition score with grain feeding. Therefore gaining condition must be done with green feed.

 

Ewes require 800kg/ha FOO by day 90 and 1200 FOO by lambing for single ewes and 1800 FOO for twinning ewes to regain lost condition. If this amount of green feed isn't likely to be available then the next best approach is to maintain ewe condition throughout pregnancy. Establishing pastures should be deferred so that FOO targets can be reached.

 

Key points:
  • Increasing ewe condition should only be done using green feed.  It is rarely economic to feed grain to increase condition

  • Only lose enough condition over autumn that can be regained using green feed after the break.  Defered grazing tactics are important to meet pasture targets

  • If ewes are, by reason of a good summer, on a higher starting CS, continue to follow the shape of the profile rather than try to lose more condition.  This will still give the highest economic return 

...read more on the economics   
Download the full MIDAS economic analysis report   (250kBs pdf)    
download/ request a hard copy of the Ewe Management Handbook for the High Rainfall Zone  

Or choose the general topic required :
How whole farm profit is affected by the condition of ewes
Improving ewe fleece weight and wool quality
Ewes in better condition at joining conceive more lambs
Improving lamb survival
More productive lambs through better ewe management
Managing twinning ewes for higher production
Managing ewe mortality

Tools  including Pasture photos, condition scoring and feed budgeting

For more information on lifetimewool in Victoria please contact:
Ralph Behrendt , DPI Hamilton, ph: 03  55730979

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Last Updated
August 1, 2013