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Ewe Management at Scanning
24 May 2021 - John Meban (BVSc) & Phil Ware (B.Ag)
Sheep scanning
Scanning ewes at 80-100 days after the ram was introduced increases accuracy.

Ewe scanning has already started for some, but for the majority it is to follow over the next few months.  To make the most from scanning and ensure the best results for accuracy there is a few things you can do to help your scanner do an accurate job. 

You need to be accurate with ram dates.  Ewes need to be scanned between 80-100 days after the ram was introduced.  Dates outside this range will mean it will be more difficult for the scanner to detect the number of lambs on board due to the size of the foetus.  Any less and the foetus is too small.  Sometimes a ram lamb which has got in or rams that have been left out until scanning will reduce accuracy for your scanner. 

Make sure you organise your ewe scanning early with your preferred scanner.  From early June to early August scanners are trying to fit 8 days work into 7 days normally.  Late bookings will more than likely mean getting a scanning date outside the golden 80–100-day period post ram in date.  Outcome will be reduced accuracy and frustration for the client.

Empty sheep out, this includes no water.  Having a full rumen and bladder does make it harder to ultrasound and see a good image.  A full rumen also squashes the uterus which makes it difficult for the scanner to pick up twins and triplets.  Our contract scanners prefer when scanning for twin/singles that the first 1000 ewes are held of grass overnight. The rest of the mob can be kept in a grass holding paddock then bought into the yards in the morning to empty while those first 1000 ewes are being scanned.  With triplet/aged scanning their preference is for the first 2000 sheep to be held off grass overnight.  Rest of the ewes can be kept in a grass holding paddock then bought into the yards in the morning to empty while those first 2000 ewes are being scanned.

Finally, please make sure you have sufficient labour.  Scanners may have sometimes up to 3 properties to get to within a day.  Ensuring you have enough labour on hand to maintain a good flow of sheep into the crate will be much appreciated. Let’s hope for good percentages this autumn, but for some a lower scanning may be a blessing following the dry start to winter.