Adapted from AWI’s Beyond the Bale December 2022 Issue (Pages 24 and 25)
Results from a survey conducted in 2021 by AWI and MLA, reported that 58% of sheep producers do not scan their ewes for multiples or pregnancy status, leaving only 42% of producers that do. The primary reason identified in the survey being producers are not yet convinced of the benefits.
A recent research project conducted in South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales has produced a cost/benefit analysis why using pregnancy scanning data is beneficial when they looked at a number of Merino, Merino-Terminal cross and Maternal sheep enterprises, rainfall areas (Summer and Winter dominant) and lambing periods (Autumn, Winter, and Spring).
The reasons why you should pregnancy scan - Pregnancy scanning provides valuable information to assist sheep producers to meet the varied nutritional demands of twin and single bearing ewes. For Merino sheep especially, it can increase twin born lamb survival rates and subsequent lamb marking rates by allowing producers to make more informed decisions when allocating mobs to lambing paddocks.
The project has now proven that pregnancy scanning can increase overall farm profitability by up to 400% in certain scenarios. In a winter dominant rainfall area, the average return on investment was $5.75 per ewe scanned across three separate lambing periods. Alternatively, in a summer dominant rainfall area, the average return on investment is slightly lower across the same three separate lambing periods, at $4.44 per ewe scanned. The biggest profitability driver is for producers to sell their non-performing stock (dry/non-pregnant ewes), which also increases the overall reproductive efficiency of the breeding flock.
Scanning for multiples was twice the value of scanning for only pregnancy status for the average flock. Sheep producers who are currently not pregnancy scanning are encouraged to start, as scanning for pregnancy status alone has also seen profitable increases to production.
To improve the overall accuracy of scanning results, producers are also encouraged to scan at the correct time, 80-90 days after the rams have been put in with the ewes, for a conventional 5 week joining period, and to prepare the ewes for scanning by keeping them off feed and water the night before scanning.
1. Book your pregnancy scanner the day you put the rams out.
2. Capture the pregnancy scanning results using eID tags.
3. Use the pregnancy scanning data to determine mob size and better allocate paddocks to the ewes that need the feed and shelter (multiples).
4. Sell once or twice-dry ewes.
5. Pre-prepare lambing paddock feed budgets.
To read the full article go to AWI - Beyond the Bale - Issue 93