Sheep Pregnancy Scanner: Everything You Need to Know
Sheep pregnancy scanning can be described as the process of externally examining a sheep with an ultrasound scanner to determine whether she is pregnant and also to establish the number of lambs she is bearing.
The scanning procedure is carried out for an array of different reasons. First and foremost, the process is done to determine which sheep are pregnant. It's crucial to determine which sheep are not pregnant so that you don't overfeed them. For the pregnant sheep, farmers need to know how many lambs each ewe is carrying to ensure that the nutrient level can be adjusted accordingly. If you overfeed a sheep carrying a single lamb, it will grow so large that you will almost always have to deliver it via caesarean section. As a result, ultrasound scanning is better for the sheep and more convenient for the farmer.
This article will further discuss why sheep scanning is important, when the best time is to scan your sheep, as well as the benefits this process can have for the farmer.
Scanning pregnant sheep is a simple management practice that can help farmers navigate the needs of pregnant sheep, which directly increases the number of lambs born.
Sheep Scanning also allows the identification of non-bearing sheep which allows farmers to manage them more profitably, whether by selling or keeping them as a wool-producing herd that requires less attention and resources. If you are unaware of your sheep's pregnancy status, non-bearing sheep will fight for feed with pregnant sheep, which is a waste of money, resources, and can reduce lambing rates.
Generally, the first scan will take place between 35 to 40 days after the ewes were separated from the rams. This scan is mainly to determine which sheep are pregnant and which aren't. Later on, a second scan will be performed to determine which sheep are carrying multiple lambs. This scan takes place around 80 to 100 days after the separation. After the 100-day mark, it is more difficult to determine whether the ewe is carrying a single or multiple lambs.
Determining whether the sheep is carrying a single lamb or multiple lambs is crucial information to ensure that they are not over or underfed during the bearing period. By identifying and separating the sheep into groups of single bearing and multiple bearing ewes, you can ensure that they maintain a healthy body condition rating, which is directly related to lamb birth weight and lamb survival rate.
The number one benefit that farmers gain from sheep scanning is being able to properly manage the needs of pregnant ewes which ultimately increases lamb survival rates. Although the scanning is used to distinguish between single and multiple bearing ewes it doesn’t just stop there. The scanning process also aids in grouping the sheep into light or heavy body weight categories which allow farmers to distribute the best feed to the lighter body weight groups to promote growth and increase lamb survival rate.
Other benefits of sheep scanning include:
- Administering feed in the most sustainable and cost-effective method possible to aid in the highest return on investment.
- To determine the correct waiting period before ewes can be placed with the rams again for a new bearing season.
- Improved survival rate as well as size and health of newborn lambs.
- To identify non-pregnant ewes early on to ensure the prevention of overfeeding.
However, the element affecting scanning accuracy must be thoroughly understood in order for farmers to reap extensive benefits from sheep pregnancy scanning. That's why it's always advised to consult professionals, to ensure you get the best results from your lambing season.
The prices of sheep scanning within South Africa differ according to the equipment or provider used for the scanning process.
At AgrifoodSA, we recommend PGK Agri for professional and accurate sheep scanning services. PGK Agri is highly skilled at innovative sheep scanning technology and can help you retain accurate results, to improve the well-being of your sheep and the profitability of your business.
Visit the AgrifoodSA directory to get in contact with PGK Agri.