Sheep Pregnancy Scanning: Management Tips
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When scanning is performed within the recommended time frame, accuracy of identifying animals that are not pregnant and counting number of fetuses is very high. Accuracy decreases when animals are above or below this time window, and with increasing number of fetuses. One of the services available to sheep and goat producers in Ontario is pregnancy detection (scanning) using realtime ultrasound equipment.
For producers to get the maximum benefit from using pregnancy scanning, factors affecting accuracy need to be well understood. According to the scanners that are certified to offer this service to Ontario producers, some of the factors that seem to be involved with reduced accuracy in sheep flocks include:
With good setup, a throughput of more than 75 ewes or does per hour is possible.
To demonstrate the cost-benefit of scanning, consider the example of a group of 200 ewes, with a typical open rate of 5%. Those that are determined open at scanning can be culled immediately, taking advantage of seasonally strong cull prices, or moved into the next breeding group and exposed again for breeding. For the purposes of this example, cost of scanning is assumed to be $2.00 per animal. In many instances, the cost will be less than this, depending on travel distance and whether other flocks in the same area are being scanned at the same time.
Cost: 200 ewes at $2.00 each = $400
Income from sale of culls:
5% open = 10 ewes at 145 lb/average weight and $0.60/lb = $870
Feed Savings can be calculated using the following formulas:
Number of open ewes x number of days to lambing x pounds hay / ewe / day.
Number of open ewes x number days on grain x pounds grain / ewe/ day.
Feed saved compared to normal culling time.
10 ewes x 60 days x 5 lb/day = 3,000 lb
10 ewes x 45 days x 1.5 lb/day = 675 lb
Through better feeding management, singles will be smaller and multiple lambs will be larger. If lamb mortality is reduced to 10%, from 12%, this will result in an extra 6 lambs in this sample flock. At today's market prices, this reflects an extra $600 to $720 in gross income.
Ultrasound pregnancy scanning can be used as a cost-effective management tool to improve breeding program management, feeding management, and newborn survival.
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300