The decision to mate hogget ewes can be a tough one. It increases the efficiency and productivity of the flock but can be costly if not well planned. Mating hoggets does not negatively affect their productivity if they are 42kg at mating, well-fed and well-grown by two tooth mating.
- Better use of feed already grown
- More lambs to sell
- Income from the feed and labour already invested in growing hoggets
- Faster genetic progress
- Increased ability to cull with more replacements born
- Increase flock size if reduced during the drought
- Uses feed and labour that might be needed by mature ewes
- Need enough feed to continue growing through mating and pregnancy
- Lambs can be lighter
- Higher mortality in poor hoggets
- Lose flexibility in a drought to cull or tighten hoggets
This a decision individual to each farm. Best results will be achieved if the flock already has high levels of fertility and lamb survival (120%+). Farms not achieving this goal would get a greater return from investing this feed and time into the mature ewes.
Feeding these ewes is critical. The MINIMUM acceptable weight for ewe hoggets to be mated is 65% of mature weight (42kg for 65kg mature). The feed budget must be able to support these growth rates in enough hoggets to make this worthwhile. They should be gaining a minimum of 135g/day through mating and pregnancy and 150g after lambing if they are to achieve 65kg at second mating.
Mating hoggets can be a great way to manage feed and increase the fertility of your flock. Please contact your local Anexa vet if you would like to discuss how this would work for you.
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