Opportunities at scanning time

Read our handy checklist of how to make the most of your ewes being in the yards.

Scanning is a great opportunity to plan and review in the lead up to lambing. There are also lots of things that you can do while the ewes are handy to the yards - making the most of their time off feed.

Selenium test

If you have not tested your ewes’ selenium levels in the past 5-6 months, it is a really good idea to have them checked at this stage.

Low selenium levels in stock can cause huge losses, particularly in the run up to lambing. As well as lamb losses, it can make your flock much more susceptible to infections, such as salmonella, campylobacter, toxoplasmosis, listeria and pink eye, even when they are fully vaccinated.

Testing only takes a few minutes as we only need to test five animals from any mob. If all your mobs are likely to be the same, just test one mob. If you have had stock out on grazing, or on different blocks that have a different selenium prill history, then testing another group may be a good idea.

We can do the test before scanning if you want to be able to treat your ewes with selenium at scanning time. It takes about 4-5 days to get results back.

Body Condition Score

Scanning is a great time to do some Body Condition Scoring (BCS), or at least drafting off your lights.

Putting your hand on your ewes at this time of year is essential, as you still have time to get some weight onto your light ones. Pulling them out and putting them into a smaller size mob will have great benefits. You may be able to leave these ones off crop, and, instead of having an extra mob, run them with your triplets or ewe lambs.

Improving a low BCS before the end of gestation has a massive impact on lamb survival, with better lamb birth weights, more colostrum and milk production, and a Mum that’s got energy to get her lambs up and going after birth. They will also have more energy for fighting if a cold snap comes through. Improving lamb survival is something you can influence, unlike $/kg or the weather!

Triplet scanning

If you don’t normally scan for triplets, please consider it, even if you’re on harder country (actually, especially if you’re on harder country!) Pulling these ewes out at scanning time and treating them just a little bit better is likely to pay big dividends.

You don’t need to lamb them on their own if you’re worried about the chaos that this may cause, just draft them off and treat them like your light ewes, as discussed above. Reducing grazing pressure and giving them the better bales of balaege may be the only changes you make.

Iodine supplementation

It is a good idea to give long-acting iodine injections at scanning time. The iodine needs to be administered at least 8 weeks before lambing to get the benefits of lamb thyroid development and better metabolism in newborn lambs. Those who have done it before are probably aware that heating the bottles with hot water bottles in a chilly bin can make the job easier.

Pull out late lambers

Your late lambers will not need so much feed in the lead up to your lambing date. They will be just fine for a bit longer on the last of the crop, or having feed rationed until closer to their lambing date.

Feed budgeting

Once you have the scanning results, you can check on your feed budgets and review what crops you have left and who is going to eat them.

It's a good opportunity to ensure you have enough feed available to adequately feed your twin and triplet ewes in the last 6 weeks before lambing. If you have a deficiency of feed looming and you make plans for the deficit now, you will have more options, such as ordering grain/nuts, finding grazing for hoggets, or sourcing more good quality balaege.

Paddock planning

Now is a good time to think about what groups you can lamb in what paddocks. Keep your steepest paddocks for ewes less likely to have a bearing (singles) and save more feed on the flatter paddocks and those with shelter for your twins and triplets.

There are always so many things to plan and monitor on a farm. I hope this wee checklist of things to consider around scanning time can help to ease some of the pressure. 

All the best for great scanning results and a successful run up to lambing time.


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