It's official – sheep on a rising plain of nutrition at tupping time not only produce more lambs but also a tighter lambing period.

While it has always been widely accepted that gains in condition score in ewes from weaning to tupping time would boost scanning percentages, results from a recent SHEEPNet workshop at the French research institute (CIIPRO) also point to such sheep show lower lamb mortality and better lamb performance.

We condition score ewes to assess whether they have healthy levels of fat reserves. The scoring method, from 1 – extremely lean, to 5- extremely fat, helps categorise the ewes for this highly influential attribute. Following the scoring, we act – those that are too lean are given preferential feeding to bring the flock average up to target: often condition score 3-3.5.

Moving the ewes from condition score 2 to 3 between weaning and tupping offers great opportunity. The CIIPRO research showed that this improvement is worth: 9.5% increase in proportion of pregnant ewes in first 17 days, 15% increase in flock scanning percentage, 3.4% decrease in lamb mortality up to 10 days old and 30g per day increase in lamb growth per litter. The value of these four improvements equated to €24/ewe increase in gross margin.

Get a handle of the flock condition now and make changes that will really influence the flock performance for next lambing. For further SHEEPNet findings, visit