world agriculture down on the farm
agricultural services pedigree livestock news dairy beef agricultural machinery agricultural property agricultural organisations
Stackyard News Sep 06

news index




Select Stock to Improve Lambing Management Ease

Selecting ewes and rams for easier management at lambing through good recording from tupping and a simple English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) scoring system could do much to increase lamb survival rates while reducing critical lambing labour requirements.


beltex lambs

Indeed, the proportion of lambs requiring assistance at or around birth has been found to vary from 8% to 55% between individual rams within a single terminal breed. At an average 10 minutes of extra attention per lamb for lambing and suckling assistance, this represents a difference of nearly 8 hours for every 100 lambs born.

In addition to good nutrition of the ewe through pregnancy, lamb vitality and mothering ability play an important role in influencing the success with which lambs suckle after birth. This in turn can affect lamb losses and labour demands at lambing with considerable impact on returns.

Failures in maternal care have traditionally been blamed for much of UK lamb mortality, which currently averages around 15% as against a target of 6% for English lowland flocks. However, recent SAC research shows that lamb survival is closely linked to the speed with which lambs stand and suckle after birth, so selection for both lamb and ewe behavioural traits could reduce mortality.

Given the extent to which the components of lambing management ease are genetic, work is currently underway to develop EBVs that can be used to identify superior stock. For those flocks breeding replacements, EBLEX has published a simple system to improve both ewe and ram selection by scoring each birth for lambing ease, mothering ability and lamb vigour.



Lambing Score




Lambing Ease


Minor help

No assistance

Mothering Ability

Leaves lambs

Stands well back

Follows whatever

Lamb Vigour

Has to be suckled

Slow to suck

Suckles rapidly

At its simplest, the system can be used to identify ewes that are difficult to lamb and have relatively poor mothering abilities for possible culling. Equally, it can be valuable in selecting replacement ewe lambs with good early vigour from easy lambing ewes with good mothering abilities.

When linked to accurate tupping records of which rams serve which ewes, it can also be used to select rams that produce easier lambing and more vigorous progeny for future breeding.

Practical guidance on easier management at lambing and throughout the flock year is set out in the latest EBLEX Sheep Better Returns Programme Manual – Target Easier Management for Better Returns – available free of charge to English levy payers by calling 0870 2418829 or e-mailing

link Forecast Suggests Continued Lamb Market Strength
link Buckleys take Skipton Suffolks show championship
link Hampshire Downs leads SRS Scheme

    home | agri-services | pedigree pen | news | dairy | beef | machinery
quota | property | organisations | site map