By Poppy Frater, sheep and grassland specialist, SAC Consulting

The time to achieve the highest lamb growth rates is between birth and weaning – lambs growing at 200g/day will be 10kg lighter at 100 days that those growing 300g/day.

Nutrition during late pregnancy influences both the onset of milk production and the volume and quality of colostrum. But nutrition during lactation influences the amount of milk the ewe produces.

To produce milk, she will use up some of her body reserves alongside the dietary energy provisions. The thing to watch for is that she doesn’t use up too much of that, as it can be challenging to regain condition pre- tupping.

Spring grass is generally good quality (green leaf averages at around 11.5 megajoules of metabolisable energy per kg dry matter (MJ ME/kg DM), therefore aim for quantity.

It is by far the cheapest feed – it is high value and coincides with the period when lamb growth is most efficient. During early lactation ewes and lambs on inbye pasture should have at least 7cm of grass in front of them.

If this looks unlikely, consider applying nitrogen to boost grass and/or supplementing with concentrates.

Rotational grazing of ewes and lambs from three weeks after lambing provides the flock with fresh green growth on a regular basis. This does not need to be complicated.

It can involve eight paddocks and three day shifts. This gives the grass a 21-day break, which is the average time to produce three green leaves in the spring.

Milk production peaks at two to three weeks post-lambing – after eight weeks, lambs' diets will be predominantly pasture. This, unfortunately, coincides with when the pasture starts to decline in quality. Assess ewe condition and grass supply when making weaning decisions.

If grass is short and ewes are getting lean, weaning them early gives an opportunity to target nutrition towards the ewes and lambs independently.