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Mid-winter shearing

Mid-winter shearing and pre-lamb vaccination of pregnant ewes are both relatively common practices New Zealand.

Mid-winter shearing

The main reasons for mid-winter shearing include fewer ewe losses over winter/spring, potential to increase lamb birth weight and better wool quality.

Successful mid-winter shearing depends on:

  • Timing of shearing.
  • Providing additional feed.
  • Providing adequate shelter for three to five days after shearing.

Mid-winter shearing should take place at 50-100 days gestation (ideally 88 days after introduction of the ram). Too early risks abortions and later than 100 days increases the risk of pregnancy toxaemia and milk fever.

A positive survival response from shearing during pregnancy is most likely to occur in twin or triplet lambs. Shearing during pregnancy can increase birth weights of these lambs which can make a big difference to their survival rate.

Mid-winter shearing can be a stressful experience for sheep especially if combined with inclement weather. It is therefore best not to shear very light sheep and to provide additional feed and shelter after shearing.

In general, the benefits of winter shearing outweigh the costs but it is not something to take on without careful planning. Talk to your vet to set up a plan for your flock.

Pre-lamb vaccinations 

These are an essential part of successful ewe flock management. Using Nilvax you can vaccinate two to six weeks prior to lambing rather than the two to three weeks with standard 5-in-1 clostridial vaccines. The use of Nilvax lessens the risk of sleepy sickness (associated with mustering close to lambing) and provides protection through the ewe’s colostrum, until lambs are weaned.

Colostrum protection of lambs with standard 5-in-1 vaccines is as short as six to eight weeks.

If your hoggets/two-tooths have not had an initial clostridial vaccination course, they will require two shots four weeks apart.  Ideally Multine 5-in-1 as the sensitiser, and Nilvax as the booster.