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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Graham

Nutrient Flushing

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the reproduction of animals. Specifically in sheep, nutritional adequacy impacts hormone production, cycling, ovulation, fertility, early embryonic development, and embryo survival. Flushing is the process of providing additional energy to restore adequate body reserves before breeding and in the first month after breeding. This stimulates the ovulation rate and ultimately lambing rate.

Six months before ovulation is a critical period for follicular development and nutritional adequacy. The ability to monitor energy reserves in your sheep is important, this can be done using body condition scoring(BCS). The wool on sheep can mask the body condition so it is important to palpate these animals to determine fat cover. Monitoring these reserves is the best management practice because overfed animals can be just as detrimental as underfed animals. Overfed animals will have a more difficult time conceiving and lambing. They are also getting nutrition that is not necessary, therefore, making it inefficient to keep feeding them at a rate higher than their requirements.

Flushing is a technique that has variable results. If a rancher provides adequate nutrition throughout the year, the need for flushing is reduced. Flushing should be used if feed quality has been poor and ewes are in low to moderate BCS. The recommended period for flushing is about 15 days before breeding and should continue for 3 to 4 weeks. Greater response occurs for mature ewes than for yearlings. Grouping ewes by body weight and BCS will reduce the need to flush all ewes and is more efficient.

When looking at the research regarding flushing, the best management practices include maintaining a medium plane of nutrition year-round instead of flushing. We have a few different products to help with year-round nutrition for your herd. Depending on the year and feed availability, the mineral and vitamin demand will change and we can work with you to choose the correct mineral for your operation each year. Our most in-demand product is the Cana-Lix 21% lick tub. These tubs are 125 lbs and have guaranteed 21% protein. We have feedback that these tubs are very palatable with a consistency that prevents them from consuming too much and does not get affected by weather. We also have a few loose mineral products available. We also carry Mapleview Lamb Start milk replacer for all your lambing needs! Please contact us with any questions regarding our sheep products or check out the Sheep/Lamb section on the website!


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