Flushing Provides Many Benefits During Lambing, Kidding Season
It may seem like next year’s lambing and kidding season is a long way off, yet it’s already time to start preparing. Flushing sheep and goats by increasing their nutrition intake in the lead-up to breeding season in late summer can set producers up for long-term success. Clay Elliott is a Ph.D. small ruminant nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition and a sheep producer himself. He shares how a flushing program has benefited his farm.
“In our operation, the benefits of flushing revolve around getting those lambs on the ground and kids on the ground much earlier. We want to increase ovulation rates. We want to increase the conception rates based upon first service. And then from an embryo transfer standpoint, or even any kind of artificial reproductive technology, why, the flushing increases body condition and will have a positive impact in terms of embryo counts. The other thing that I think is just very important is just the increase in lambing and kidding percent. That’s obviously always something that we are looking for financially. Twins, triplets, just the number of lambs and kids that we can get on the ground will all help out at the endpoint.”
Elliott says the main advantage of a flushing program is the ability to breed animals earlier.
“To me, this is the most important one that we talk about – getting these animals bred earlier so we can actually sell more pounds of lamb and kid at the end. And the bottom line of all this means is that we are getting these animals bred earlier, these females bred earlier, so we can get lambs and kids on the ground, so that we have a greater period of time for those animals to grow to their weaning end point in terms of selling.”
To get started with a flushing program, Elliott recommends increasing nutrition levels in the diet around 45 to 60 days before buck turnout.
“Fat is a precursor for cholesterol, and cholesterol is what allows us to set up some of those reproductive hormones in those females. And so, an elevated fat level in this flushing period is pretty important. My recommendation though, relative to a protein level in these feeds, and a fat level, would be somewhere between a 10 and a 16, with probably a 12 to 14 protein being ideal.”
But the most important aspect of any sheep and goat diet, according to Elliott, is mineral.
“Mineral is absolutely the most critical thing that I could ever tell producers to utilize because I just think that it is so important to keep those animals healthy, to keep those females going. Mineral in general will help us increase our ovulation rates. It will help us reproductively. And so that is the one thing that I tell every producer who will listen to me is, ‘Don’t skimp on minerals.’”
Elliott adds that body condition score is a great tool for producers to track whether they are on target with their flushing program.
“If we go into flushing, I think it’s important that these gals begin somewhere in that two to two and a half range. And then as we increase their plane of nutrition, we could see them actually rise up to between a two and a half and a three, and that would be ideal in terms of conception, in terms of twinning rates, etc.”
Contact your local Purina nutritionist or visit purinamills.com to get started today.