March 2016
Farm & Field

Doe Herd and Ewe Flocks Management

Winter – Kidding and Lambing Season

Animal-nutrient requirements and voluntary-feed intake increases during the winter since does and ewes may be in mid-to-late gestation, kidding or lambing phase. Therefore, producers are advised to implement the following herd management practices. Provide winter supplementation. Assess feed options in advance to ensure that animals receive adequate protein, energy and mineral supplements. It is wise to consider feed costs, availability, ease of handling and storage, animal acceptance and nutrient contents. Producers may encounter problems if they wait until winter begins to secure hay and other nutritional resources.

It’s important to secure enough good-quality hay to provide supplemental forage until spring pastures are able to support the breeding herd. Hay should be tested for quality to determine if additional supplementation is needed. However, you should avoid overfeeding non-pregnant or early pregnant females since overfeeding could lead to metabolic disorders, reproductive failures and higher feed costs. Grouping does or ewes by pregnancy status will help you better manage nutritional resources.

You can also reduce your feed bill by culling open and non-productive ewes and does and other excess animals. In addition, be sure to monitor the body condition of the animals to make sure they are in good condition during parturition. Supplement feed as body condition warrants.

Caring for Pregnant Ewes and Does

Daily observation of animals and keeping good records are management practices that will help producers have a successful lambing and kidding season. If breeding is conducted on a year-round basis or uncontrolled, keeping records on breeding and expected lambing and kidding dates will be more challenging.

Third Month of Pregnancy

Fourth Month of Pregnancy


Newborn Care

Maria Lenira Leite-Browning, DVM, is an Extension animal scientist at Alabama A&M University.