FLUSHING & TUPPING WITH CRYSTALYX
Ewe body condition at mating has a direct influence on ovulation rate and the number of lambs born next spring.
Nutrition during the weeks before mating should therefore try to ensure all ewes are in the correct body condition score by the time they join the ram. Check ewe body condition now – they may be better than you think.
The late spring and shortage of grass in some areas, reduced ewe milk production in the critical early weeks of lactation and when grass did finally appear, lactation performance was already permanently compromised for this season. These ewes therefore did not milk so well and have retained good body condition throughout the summer.
Fit ewes, in good body condition (at least at the lower end of their target range) will have good ovulation rates that will not normally be improved by a further increase in the plane of nutrition. These ewes simply need to be maintained where they are and offered a nutritionally balanced diet.
Grass is frequently deficient in essential trace elements, such as zinc, cobalt, iodine and selenium. A deficiency of cobalt has been shown to result in a lower ovulation rate, poor egg quality and impaired embryo development in early pregnancy, whilst selenium and vitamin E deficiencies have been associated with increased early embryonic mortality around the time of implantation. A zinc deficiency will reduce immunity and the response to vaccination and a disease challenge.
Conversely, there can be a detrimental effects from the over-supply of certain trace elements. Nutritional balance is the key, more is most certainly not necessarily better.
The response to flushing is dependent on ewe body condition and is confined to thin ewes below their BCS target. It takes approximately 8 weeks for thin ewes to gain one unit of body condition on good grass alone. Flushing should be viewed as a short-term “fix” when ewes are unable to reach their target BCS for mating.
Crystalyx Extra High Energy offers the ideal solution to both these issues:
Crystalyx Extra High Energy provides a palatable, concentrated energy source containing all the minerals, trace elements and vitamins often lacking in grass, to ensure optimum fertility and performance. Crystalyx can stimulate forage intakes and improve overall diet digestibility, resulting in more efficient use of forage and an improved available energy intake where necessary, but will not produce over-fat ewes.
In two separate trials undertaken in the School of Agriculture Food and Rural Development at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, two groups of Mule ewes were flushed on plentiful grazing, with one group having access to Extra High Energy Crystalyx. The ewes were weighed regularly and even with access to plentiful grass, the ewes fed Crystalyx gained weight faster than the Control ewes – in the first 6-7 weeks of the trials Crystalyx-fed ewes gained an extra 2kg liveweight over the control ewes. Crystalyx intakes during this period averaged approx. 50g/ewe/day.
Ninety six percent of Crystalyx-fed ewes were covered by the tups within the first 17 days after joining – leading to a more compact lambing and more efficient use of feed in late pregnancy.
Scanning data also confirmed 11% higher lamb numbers in the Crystalyx-fed group (207 vs 196%) with all the extra lambs coming as twins at the expense of singles, with no change in triplet percentage.
And don’t forget the Ram!
Many parts of the UK are selenium deficient and low lambing percentages may be related to selenium deficiency of the ram. Selenium is a critical component of the tail of the spermatozoa and selenium deficiency in the ram can result in broken or coiled tails so the motility of the sperm is dramatically reduced. Research has shown that when the selenium status of rams is improved, larger numbers of ewes conceive and hold to service.
It takes 7-8 weeks for sperm to fully develop so rams should be prepared at least 2 months before the start of the mating season. Feeding Extra High Energy Crystalyx will ensure an optimum selenium status is maintained to maximise sperm quality and ram fertility, whilst also helping to condition the rams prior to the mating season.