Possibly the most important decision around the mating of hoggets is should they be mated in the first place.
Done correctly the mating of hoggets can increase the profitability and productivity of the ewe flock. If subsequent liveweight is not affected by the breeding of hogget’s the lifetime performance of a ewe can be increased by up to 20% and the genetic gains within the flock can be enhanced as there is a slightly faster generation turnover. The target is 100 lambs weaned from 110 hogget’s mated and no negative impact on two tooth performance.
The flip side is that mating of hoggets can result in higher death rates. Approx 100kg extra of dry matter over 12 months is required for a mated vs a non-mated hogget. Also, once mated and pregnant they become a less flexible group when faced with feed pinches. But more seriously, when done badly, the future performance of the flock can be compromised.
The following would be some of the key things to consider:
To achieve a successful outcome:
So, in summary…
If mating hoggets is appropriate for your system. Know the target weights. Feed them well to achieve these before mating, choose an appropriate ram and continue to feed them. You can’t over do it!