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By Carol SandersUAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – September is the time to prepare for sheep or goat breeding season,
said Dr. David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Several steps can help insure the most successful
breeding season ever.
Conduct a breeding soundness exam on bucks and rams to see if they are still fertile.
Most small flocks and herds use only one or two males. If one or both are not fertile,
the entire breeding season may be lost, said Dr. Fernandez. Exams should be conducted
yearly, but finding a veterinarian to conduct the test may be difficult. If more veterinarians
know producers want the service, more will offer it, he said.
Review production records. Cull females that require more dewormings, or those with
bad feet and legs, poor udders, or that failed to raise healthy offspring. Also, eliminate
females that are less likely to become pregnant and raise healthy twins. Replace them
with younger females from dams that produced more and healthier offspring. This will
cut expenses and raise profits next year and in the future, said Dr. Fernandez.
Learn to body condition score your sheep and goats. Body condition and nutritional
status are keys to successful reproduction. Feel along the backbone between the last
rib and the hip bones to see if there is a moderate amount of cover over the bones.
Too much fat cover can reduce breeding success and increase lambing and kidding problems
in the spring. Learn to score at http://www.uaex.uada.edu/Other_Areas/publications/PDF/FSA-9610.pdf.
Provide extra nutrition to ewes or does for 10-14 days before the beginning of the
breeding season (flushing). The additional nutrition can help females in moderately
poor body condition breed successfully and may help increase their twinning rate.
“Animals already in good body condition do not benefit from flushing,” said Dr. Fernandez.
“Flushing good to fleshy females may even reduce their reproductive performance.”
Do not continue flushing beyond the second week of the breeding season because extra
nutrition can be detrimental to the development of the embryos in the womb during
early pregnancy. Learn more about flushing and nutritional management of ewes and
does for optimum reproduction at http://www.uaex.uada.edu/Other_Areas/publications/PDF/FSA-9611.pdf.
Start preparing for winter feed needs. Early to mid-September is time to plant cool
season annuals in Arkansas. Cool season annuals can reduce feeding costs and provide
better nutrition than hay most of the time. Have hay tested to be sure it meets or
exceeds your ewes’ and does’ late pregnancy nutrition requirements. Avoid overfeeding
because fat ewes and does can suffer from pregnancy toxemia.
For more information on this or other livestock related topics, contact Dr. Fernandez
at (870) 575-7214.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Program offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com