The triplet opportunity

Triplets are an inevitable consequence of increased fertility and several farmers shared their experiences of managing triplet lambs at the seminar.

Reece Cleland: Annandale Station-

Lambing 220-240% in their triplet-bearing ewes.

Reece manages the 2700-hectare hill country farm near Springfield, running Romney ewes and Angus cows.

Scanning in mid-July this year showed they had 660 sets of triplets-so 15 per cent of their ewes are triplet-bearing.

Reece has found feeding the ewes as well as possible before set-stocking, then running them on the hill to lamb, works very well and results in three even-sized lambs.

After scanning the triplet ewes are given ab-lib access to high-quality pasture on the farm’s flats. He says the ewes are massive by the time they are set-stocked on the hill, but these ewes are weaning lambs that at 32kg, are 2kg heavier than the average weaning weight.

The ewes are set-stocked on the hill on September 20 at 2-3/ha. Reece says there is not a lot of feed for them but they have scope and a lot more shelter than on exposed flats.

They are brought back down to the flats at tailing and they will stay on young grasses on the flats until weaning.  Reece says they will drench the triplet lambs between tailing and weaning and will wean a proportion early – before Christmas – and the balance after.

 

Grant McCarron: Lake Coleridge Station

Lambing 220-225% in their triplet mobs

Weaning weights of triplet lambs 26-27kg – average weaning weight across all lambs is 28kg at weaning in early December.

Grant is stock manager at Lake Coleridge Station’s Acheron Bank block in the Rakaia Gorge.

They run 4500 Romney ewes on flat-to-rolling paddocks that have been sub-divided and pastures improved. Between 18-20% of their ewe flock will be carrying triplets lambing early September.

These ewes are run onto swede crops at ram removal and stay on these crops until six weeks out from lambing. The triplets are then given ad-lib access to high quality pasture, while twin bearing ewes remain on swedes until set stocking.

Seven to 10 days out from lambing the triplet ewes are set-stocked onto 1500kg/ha fescue at 10-15 ewes/ha.

This stocking rate is essential to control the fescue, but it is an ideal feed for these ewes with their high energy requirements.

The ewes and lambs will typically stay in the same mobs through to weaning. The ewes are drenched at tailing and the lambs are drenched mid-lactation to maximise the potential of the high-quality spring pasture.

 

Peter Chamberlain: Norwood

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Lambing 220% from triplet ewes.

Peter runs 900 crossbred ewes on flat, early country at Norwood. They can have up to 200 sets of triplets but most ewes are carrying multiples. Typically, only 120-130 ewes will scan with single lambs.

This means the bulk of the ewes need to be well-fed and while they do hold back the single-bearing ewes because these do well anyway.

They did try taking the triplet ewes out for priority feeding but found they just got heavy and lazy. They have also tried putting the triplets in with the single ewes after lambing, but they are now taking a minimal intervention approach.

He says they give the ewes every chance with plenty of space and feed and hope that weather plays its part.

“We let the sheep do as much as possible.”

Supplied by Beef + Lamb NZ