How to make the most of your mating stock carrying your newest genetics.
Unless you are mating your hoggets, your two-tooths carry your newest genetics and you want to make the most of them. Here is a wee checklist for preparing them for mating to make sure they perform well:
Condition/weight. They need to be well-grown before they go to the ram. Your two-tooths should be fully grown by mating and weigh the same as your Body Condition Score (BCS) 3 M/A ewes. If they aren't there, it is important to put a plan in place now to achieve this.
Nutrition. Pasture can be reproductive by the time mating comes around. At this time, the nutrient value lowers, so be mindful of this and plan feeding for two-tooths so that they are on a rising plane of nutrition for best performance.
Parasites. Mating happens at a time where larval challenge can be very high. A Faecal Egg Count (FEC) to see what's happening in the two-tooths just before mating is useful. This is now part of the revamped OviGOLD programme.
Toxoplasmosis vaccinations. These need to be done at least 4 weeks before mating. Hopefully, you already have this planned and your vaccines ordered. Two-tooths require one vaccination into the muscle, with a natural booster by exposure to cat faeces for long term immunity.
Campylobacter vaccinations. These consist of 2 shots, 3-8 weeks apart, ideally completed 4 weeks before mating, with an annual booster for full, long term immunity.
Selenium levels. If these have not been tested on your farm within 12 months, a quick test is highly recommended. Low selenium levels can have massive impacts on farm productivity. A test can be done on 5 animals on a trailer brought to the clinic, if that's helpful to you.
Iodine levels. These are most important for lamb survival and lowest in animals that are on brassicas for more than 6 weeks. Long-acting supplements can be given before mating, or over the winter.
Animals that have been mated as hoggets MUST PERFORM AS TWO-TOOTHS! If you have any concerns about this, please get in touch so we can help you to come up with a plan to make sure this happens.